Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gray World

As Bruce Krasting is telling us the world of gray will soon be upon us.  And since we know he can do fancy things with the pictures in his posts he must be a sharp guy.
The material in question is Titanium Dioxide (TiO2).  As he notes:

Bruce Krasting, 23 November 2011 (hat tip: NC)
[E]verything that you look at that is white has this stuff in it. From pills to food to paper to paint, if it’s white, it’s T”…

So look forward to gray toilette paper/toothpaste. Newspapers too. Paint will get much more expensive, meaning we’ll paint less; our white houses (and White House) will get gray with age.

The reason we are going gray is because the world supply of Titanium Dioxide is getting tight.  It is one of those “rare” materials that everyone uses, and is not all that uncommon in nature – being made in a nasty smelly process from white beach sand – that we just cannot get enough of.  On average we (the world) uses 2 pounds per person per year.  We in the U.S. max out at 9 pounds each, and though demand is growing the Chinese are currently using 1 pound each.
The price of 7 billion consumers on the planet.
Prices are going through the roof; up 38% this year. The raw material, rutile, has seen its price rise by a whopping 77%. Demand is projected to increase another 50% in 2012 (Link). The price has nowhere to go but up.

So if the price is going up, likely we will be using less of the stuff.  Thus everything is turning gray.
On the plus side, the stuff is not exactly cost free.   Krasting notes the research of Bendicte Trouiller at UCLA:
Amid Nanotech’s Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow
Andrew Schneider, AOL News, ~May 2010, via OMSJ,

Consuming the nano-titanium dioxide was damaging or destroying the rats' DNA and chromosomes. The biological havoc continued as she repeated the studies again and again. It was a significant finding: The degrees of DNA damage and genetic instability can be "linked to all the big killers of man, namely cancer, heart disease, neurological disease and aging.
Some of these conserns go back decades with Lee, Trochimowicz & Reinhardt's Pulmonary Response of Rats Exposed to Titanium Dioxide by Inhalation for Two Years " (1985).  But with noted mixed results in later studies. This recent worrisome study is the nano-tech gray goo version.  That will make you feel either safer or very much not safer.

So at the cost of going gray, maybe we will live a little longer.  Or maybe without nice white lines to keep us on the correct side of the road....

Bendicte Trouiller


Degringolade said...

Please keep posting the pretty scientists.

It is OK to look, just don't go and buy a corvette, get a scrip for viagra and go chasing them.

You might catch one.

russell1200 said...

LOL, I am posting, not chasing.