Quick question for readers who conduct research with vertebrate animals.
We were gazing lovingly at the PharmBeagle this morning and got into a discussion that the beagle is on one of the primary model species for long-term toxicology studies required of drug companies by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Is there a comparative pharm/tox reason why do we not use squirrels, the arch enemy of the beagle?

Oriental Trading Co. Face Paint Recall – Colors Expanded

face paint.jpgThe US Food and Drug Administration is usually the first federal authority to take action on adverse event reports for any health product. But few appreciate that the FDA is also responsible for regulation of cosmetic products: pretty much anything applied to the skin.
So, it was no surprise when I was trolling the FDA adverse event reports and news releases to find their announcement of a recall of a number of children’s face paints due to rashes and undue skin irritation. The products are manufactured by Shanghai Color Art Stationery Company Limited, Shanghai, China.
The original recall was issued on 12 May but two additional colors were added yesterday.
While you may not recognize the name of the Chinese manufacturer, parents may recognize the name of the US distributor of these products: Oriental Trading Company of Omaha, Nebraska. (I’d add that they were the ones who issued a voluntary recall and did not require FDA action to do so).

The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers last week to stop using six paint colors distributed by Oriental Trading Co. of Omaha, Neb., after reports of rashes and skin irritations. The products were found to have yeast and mold counts above industry guidelines, FDA said.
Oriental Trading Co. subsidiary Fun Express announced Friday it was adding white and yellow face paints to the colors already recalled, which were blue, purple, red, orange, black and green.

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Veterans and Veterinarians

The childlike wonder, creativity, observations and questioning are all qualities that we scientists try to bring to our research and teaching. The observations of a child may seem insignificant to some but I am amazed when PharmKid comes up with questions or associations that I cannot explain. I don’t blog about this much unless it has something to do with scientific queries, such as our top-traffic answer and follow-up to her question about where helium comes from.

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Getting a Rise Out of Helium

Sci/Med blogging is an interesting pastime. You can spend a tremendous amount of time writing a post and get two comments and 30 total viewers, or you can write a brief post about your daughter asking where helium comes from and get many more commenters and nearly a thousand viewers.
Clearly, the five-year-old is a better source for blog content. Q.E.D.
And, wow, what we have learned from our readers in response: one frequent Australian commenter, Chris Noble, confirmed the abundance of helium in Amarillo by noting their next shipment was indeed coming from Texas. Casey pointed us to an NPR story on the current helium shortage and Gretchen wistfully told us to stop filling our balloons so she could complete her experiments. Amarillo native, Biggs, noted the 50-foot high helium molecule in town – isn’t the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo too? (Those Amarillians seem to be enthusiastic about memorializing big things.).

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The Things You Learn At Chick-Fil-A: Where Does Helium Come From?

So, PharmK’er and I were at the originator of the chicken sandwich and she wanted a balloon. She then asked why said balloon was floating. Dad was safe in explaining how helium is lighter than the nitrogen-oxygen-carbon dioxide mixture we breathe.
Then came the killer:

“Daddy, where does the helium come from to fill the balloons?”

“A compressed gas cylinder” was not the answer she was looking for.
Thankfully, PharmMom, MD, consulted “the great big book of everything.”
Commercial helium is fractionated from natural gas, where it comprises about 7-8% of its volume, particularly in deposits within 400 km of Amarillo, Texas. The decay of uranium and thorium into alpha particles provides the higher concentration of helium observed in natural gas deposits in Texas.
I can’t imagine what awaits us during the teenage years.