Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hi, everyone! Long time, no see!

If you look carefully, every now and again you can glimpse the Storm or Windstorm whistle in the background of a Hollywood movie. Usually, it's one of those blink-and-you-miss it moments, but in the new movie "Darling Companion," our Windstorm Whistle's practically a supporting actor! It even has lines!

Check out the trailer here:

Thanks Sony Pictures Classics!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Storm Whistle Inventor Dr. Wright Has a New Video Podcast Up! Hooray!

Happy, happy Tuesday, everyone! And what better what to celebrate such a fine day then a brand-new episode of "Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You"? In this week's episode (all right, more like this MONTH'S episode), Storm whistle inventor Dr. Wright and I discuss soap. Why do we need it? How does it work? And what does the game "Angry Birds" have to do with it again?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Food Dye Dilemma

It's been a while since we've had a blogpost on a good old-fashioned safety topic. I just wrote a piece for Vortex Toothpaste (Storm Whistle inventor Dr. Wright's newest invention) on food dye, and I thought you all would be interested in it as well!

St. Patrick’s Day was last weekend, and seeing all those green cupcakes and cookies everywhere made me think about food dye. I’ve heard vague rumblings about food dye being unhealthy, and there are even grocery store chains that won’t sell food with artificial dyes. But are they actually bad for you?

It’s a tricky question, because on the one hand, artificial coloring is, well, artificial. On the other hand, artificial coloring have been around for over eighty years—Americans eat over 100 million pounds of the dye Brilliant Blue every year without incident.The natural dye carmine, however, can cause a severe allergic reaction in some individuals.  So just because a dye is natural, doesn’t mean it’s better for you. It’s all a bit tricky. 

While poking around the Internet, I found one study in particular that seems to be the most widely cited: “Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.”   In this British survey from 2007, children were given two kinds of drinks with a different mix of artificial dyes and preservatives.  The survey concluded that “[a]rtificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.” 

The FDA has taken quite a critical look at this study, however, saying:
" particular procedural weakness relevant to regulatory application was the use of chemical mixtures as challenge materials which basically precludes identifying which specific compound(s) within the mixtures might be responsible for any treatment related effects. Consequently, there would be little, if any, utility of these findings to assess risk or to support regulatory decisions for specific compounds.”

In other words, when you don’t test chemicals individually, you get really muddy results. Who knows if it’s the just the preservatives that’s making the children hyperactive, or just the red dye, etc?

The FDA more explicitly sums up its reaction to the survey on the FAQs on its website:
Both the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority independently reviewed the results from this study and each has concluded that the study does not substantiate a link between the color additives that were tested and behavioral effects. 

So I suppose that’s the last word from the FDA about that.

I guess what you really have to do is look at each dye individually—each dye is chemically unique, and one chemical may have a different effect on a person than a different one will. This is the main problem that tripped up the 2007 British study—the whole study was basically deemed invalid since they didn’t test the food dyes separately. 

I’m going to take a closer look at specific food dyes over the next few weeks, starting with Brilliant Blue. Check back next week to see what I’ve dug up!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yet Another Brand-Spanking New Episode of "Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You!"

I know, I know. I'm supposed to put out a new episode of "Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You" WEEKLY, not once a month or so. But boy, I really had a hard time editing together the video to go along with this particular podcast (entitled "Help! I Have a Canker Sore!). I mean, I could really only look at videos of people with canker sores for, like, two seconds before I started feeling a little queasy.

I finally resorted to just animating a lot of the podcast (using, of course, my trusty animation program: Microsoft Paint 97).

So enjoy our newest episode, featuring, as always, Storm Whistle inventor Dr. Wright!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Episode of "Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You!"

Happy New Year, everyone! And what better way to start off the New Year than a brand, spanking-new episode of "Dr. Wright Breaks It Down for You"?

This particular episode deals with fluoride, specifically how the chemical is used in toothpastes. Fluoride can do some very powerful, very helpful things to teeth, but you should always be careful when interacting with chemicals. Be sure not to swallow too much fluoridated toothpaste, and children under the age of two should not use fluoridated toothpaste unless recommended to do so by a dental professional.

But enough with the serious side of things. The above video podcast features a seal getting its teeth brushed! And it's adorable! Check it out!

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