Toxic Art – Alexander Calder’s Mercury Fountain

As an occupational hygienist, when visiting the Alexander Calder exhibition at Tate Modern last week I couldn’t help but stop and take notice of the pictures and description of one of the works created by this American artist well known for his mobiles and other “kinetic sculptures” . A mercury fountain. While I was lookingContinue reading “Toxic Art – Alexander Calder’s Mercury Fountain”

Frustrated phagocytes and the fibre paradigm

These were a couple of phrases from Rosemary Gibson’s presentation during the nanotechnology workshop during the recent BOHS Conference. The fibre paradigm sets out the basis for the harmful effects caused by resistant fibres such as asbestos.  It states that fibres will damage the lung if they are thin enough to enter the lungs longerContinue reading “Frustrated phagocytes and the fibre paradigm”

The poison garden

I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday in Northumbria. It’s a region I haven’t visited previously I’ve never got past Newcastle before. It’s a very beautiful area with a fantastic coastline and lots of historic monuments to visit. One of the places I visited during my trip was Alnwick Castle and Gardens. The gardensContinue reading “The poison garden”

Mad as a lighthouse keeper?

I was up in the North East over the weekend for a family wedding. We stopped overnight and on the way home decided to visit the Souter Lighthouse at Whitburn. Opened in 1871 and operated until 1988, it is now owned by the National Trust. Standing in a dramatic location on the cliffs between the TyneContinue reading “Mad as a lighthouse keeper?”

Introduction to Toxicology

This is a presentation I put up on Slideshare. Its relevant to BOHS Module M101 – “Effects of hazardous substances” – but also provides some useful background for some of the other modules, particularly M102 and M103 where the examiners seem to assume that candidates have some knowledge of toxicology (although it isn’t a pre-requisiteContinue reading “Introduction to Toxicology”


There was an interesting article in the Guardian a few days ago about the use of n-hexane in a factory in China. The company in question, which produces touch screens fro companies including Nokia, was using the solvent to clean the screens. N-hexane is one of the organic compounds we study on BOHS Module course M101 “EffectsContinue reading “n-hexane”

Safe dose for ionising radiation?

It was interesting to see an article in The Guardian yesterday discussing dose response relationships and threshold doses. Generally, increasing the dose of a substance increases the severity of the effect it causes. Similarly, for a given effect, due to individual susceptibility increasing the dose leads to an increase in the response – i.e. theContinue reading “Safe dose for ionising radiation?”