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A Bad Bill for Arkansas – SB550

The Arkansas Legislature is considering a bill this week that will radically change the way that agricultural wastes, essentially feces and urine from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are regulated. Although Senator Stubblefield (Republican Branch, Arkansas) said this bill is not about the CAFO near the Buffalo National River, it will certainly affect the farm.

This bill will take responsibility for permitting CAFOs from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and simultaneously eliminate the existing permitting system. Currently, to spread feces and urine on a field requires a Regulation 5 permit but this bill will abolish Regulation 5. Responsibility for controlling these noxious wastes will be passed to local soil conservation district boards and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC.)

The move will radically weaken the way swine factory farms are regulated in Arkansas and would remove current protections for the Buffalo National River. Hog factories would be allowed to operate in a much more permissive environment and increase the likelihood of liquid animal waste entering the Buffalo National River, as well as other streams and even the watersheds of drinking water impoundments. For this reason, two of the largest water systems in the state, The Beaver Lake Water District, and Central Arkansas Water have announced their opposition to the bill.

SB550 does not provide a clear permitting framework for liquid animal waste systems. Under this bill, the management plans for disposal of the waste feces and urine will be weakened. There is no
requirement for geotechnical review as currently required under ADEQ, and the local boards for overseeing the waste management doesn’t have this expertise. They can consult the ADEQ, but why not leave the authority there where the expertise does exist?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees Arkansas’ regulations as it pertains to the Clean Water Act. The weakening of regulatory review and oversight will invite EPA scrutiny which will place increased demand on state resources and will actually create inter-agency chaos within the state’s regulatory environment. The proponents of the bill suggest the rationale for the bill is efficiency, but the net result will be the opposite.

One of the most egregious components of the bill will be to reduce public notification, input, and access to information about a CAFO. The bill allows the operators of a proposed CAFO to waive public notice. Further, animal waste management plans under the ANRC are not open to public scrutiny. When and if these animal wastes are spread to land in excess of uptake as fertilizer, the waste becomes a pollutant which can wash into streams and water bodies, causing degradation of water quality. A section of the Buffalo Natural River nearest the Mt Judea Hog factory is already impaired. Senate Bill 550 will only make things worse and take away the right of the public to know.

The Governor’s position is unclear on the bill, but he has vowed to protect the Buffalo. Senator Davis, (Republican Russellville) voted for the Bill. SB550 now goes to the House Agriculture Committee. Stan Berry (Republican Dover) is a member of the House Ag committee.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Making Clean Air Costly

The Arkansas legislature is doing its best to look backward rather than forward. Just this year the transportation sector in the United States became the major source contributing to global warming and the changes to the climate it induces. At the same time, a clear majority of Americans including Arkansans believe global warming is real, is caused by humans, and is especially threatening to future generations.

Logic should suggest then that changes to our transportation systems here in Arkansas should take account of this risk and do the right thing. Modes of transportation which don’t contribute to global warming should be favored over those that do. Right?

The new law for funding for highways in Arkansas raises fuel taxes to help pay for construction and maintenance of our highway system. For gasoline, the state tax will go from 20.8 cents a gallon to 23.8 cents a gallon, a 3 cent per gallon rise. The diesel fuel tax will rise by 6 cents a gallon.

It will raise 100s of millions of dollars a year. Ironically it will also reduce highway use at least in principle – the more gas costs, the less gas is used. Less gasoline use means a lower contribution to global warming which is a good thing. Lower gasoline use also means cleaner air, less volatile organic carbon emitted, and less ozone formed. Also a good thing.

At the same time, the bill taxes electric vehicles that don’t contribute to global warming and negative health effects from tailpipe emissions. As they don’t use gasoline or diesel, the “tax” will be assessed via a greater registration fee: 200 dollar increase per pure electric vehicle, and 100 dollars per plug-in hybrid . On the surface, this seems fair as these electric cars use and therefore abuse the highways and need to pay their fair share. But is this taxation rate fair?

The average Arkansas vehicle travels about 15,000 miles per year. At an average mileage, this works out to a tax rate significantly lower than that assessed on electric vehicles. The tax assessment plan will literally punish efficiency. It will make the purchase of electric vehicles less attractive. In so doing, this will increase, not decrease damage due our shared climate. Does the legislature really want to make our children’s future more grim?

Quite simply gasoline and diesel powered vehicles contribute to global warming, electric vehicles don’t. As a society, we need to consider the climate with every decision we make, at least if we care about our children’s future. We need to promote clean energy systems at the expense of those systems and processes that contribute to global warming.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Migrations and Climate Change

As our climate changes at an ever-increasing rate, everything from bacteria to blue whales are on the move. Climate changes have come and gone over the ages but rarely at the rate we are inducing by our profligate production of Carbon Dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Both plants and animals alike have only two choices – migrate or die.

Species migrations are generally are to the north or upslope, in either case to cooler climes that existed before global warming. Some migrations have little impact on humans. The Arctic is a bellwether for climate change as it is occurring there more rapidly than elsewhere. Moose are moving north, for the mosses and larch which now have moved northward. Ironically polar bears are moving south. As the ice floes where they hunted seals diminish, they are forced on to land, moving south where they are now competing with grizzly bears.

The now extinct Golden Toad lived in the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. As the climate warmed, it went upslope until it had no higher to go. A smallish mammal, the Bramble Cay Melomys is now extinct. It formerly inhabited an atoll near Papua New Guinea, but sea level rise has inundated the atoll and it had nowhere to go.

Of greater concern to humans are shifting populations of pests. Leishmaniasis is a deadly disease caused by a protozoan parasite. Infection occurs from the bite of an infected sand fly. The sand fly and hence the disease has previously only been seen in the tropics, but the sand fly is now seen in North Texas.

Plant pests that affect food crops are on the move. A moth is moving south(southern hemisphere) ravaging cruciferous crops in South Africa. Coffee plants in Central America are threatened by a fungus due to wetter weather. Wine grapes and olives are threatened in Europe.

Rapid climate change invariably means large scale species extinctions. The greatest rapid climate change is called the Permian Extinction. Around a quarter of a billion years ago, not all that long ago considering the nearly 5 billion year age of the planet, something happened that wiped out about 90 percent of life’s species. It has been suggested that an asteroid a couple of miles across stuck earth.

The debris from the impact, plus induced volcanism from the shock to the mantle would have flooded the skies with ash and poisoned the oceans with sulfuric and other acids. The skies would have drastically darkened and cooled the earth, killing most plant life. The subsequent release of Carbon Dioxide upon their decay would have then drastically warmed the planet. The climatic whipsaws resulted in the extinction of 96 percent of ocean life and over two-thirds of terrestrial life. Rapid climate change is a bad thing for biodiversity and biodiversity is the best measure of a healthy environment.

A physical catastrophe such as an asteroidal impact is out of our control, but we can and must get our impact on the climate under control. No amount of walls and fences will stop starving migrants suffering from climatic change.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Infrastructure Matters

The good news is that 2018 wasn’t the hottest year on record, only the fourth hottest. The bad news is that the first, second, and third were 2015, 2016, and 2017. One record year doesn’t mean much as the average temperature of the planet is a somewhat “noisy” signal. But the trend is obvious and can’t be denied. How about this: 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000.

This trend could be overlooked if one only looked at a particular locale like one state or even one country, but these statistics are based on the global mean temperature, measured by several different agencies, using differing techniques.

A proxy for the global temperature, isotopic analysis of ice cores at the poles can take us even further back in time, even past several glacial/interglacial cycles. It is hotter now than ever. The planet is warming overall and that is forcing other changes to the climate besides being simply hotter.

One of the more serious impacts which we are beginning to see already is an increase in the severity of weather phenomena. More intense hurricanes, heavier rainfall episodes, and more extended droughts can all be attributed to climate change.

The changes are a real existential threat to society. Our infrastructure must be remade to accommodate climate change. At the same time, we need to takes the steps necessary to slow planetary warming by reducing and ultimately abandoning the use of fossil fuels.

The text of the state of the union speech contained some mention of the need for attention to infrastructure. “Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” Trump told the assembled government leaders. “I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill, and I am eager to work … on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment.”

What wasn’t heard in the speech was any mention of climate change. In fact, climate change has been off the radar for the last three state of the union speeches. Simply replacing an old interstate highway bridge with a new one will not prepare us for the future. The bridges of the future will have to be higher to protect from increased flooding and built stronger to protect from hurricanes, tornadoes, or other storm events.

Coastal cities must plan for more flooding and more saltwater intrusion into their water systems. Power systems must not just be replaced but must be made more robust. It will be necessary to bury our electric transmission and distribution lines to protect them from untoward weather events.

An event, not out of the question, would be another record flood like the 1927 flood of the lower Mississippi River. An area, 27,000 square miles was flooded to a depth of 30 feet or more in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In today’s dollars that would be a several trillion dollar damage event.

Here in Arkansas, Governor Hutchinson is floating legislation to provide 300 million dollars annually for transportation infrastructure via a combination of sales and fuel taxes. Also planned is an increase in the registration fees for plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla line. This is particularly wrong-headed as they are a solution to global warming. We should be promoting these vehicles, not punishing their use. The Governor’s plan is a business as usual infrastructure fix without any vision for the future and actually punishes actions needed for the future.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Medicare for All

It shouldn’t be this hard, really. Just about every country in the developed world has some form of universal healthcare, managed by a central authority. Management varies, the degree of supplemental private insurance varies, and the degree of coverage varies, but one factor is common to all the others: it works. Everybody gets coverage, outcomes are better, and the total cost is lower.

The arguments against universal healthcare here in the United States are numerous and generally are all wrong. One of the sillier arguments is that you can’t compare the success in smaller countries with our more populous country. Nonsense, anyone that knows about healthcare coverage knows that the larger the insured pool, the more predictable the costs, and hence the lower the costs.

The most common argument is we just can’t afford it. Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and occasional wannabe presidential candidate proclaimed that “Medicare for all would bankrupt us for a very long time.” Nonsense, it’s not bankrupting European or Asian countries, why should it bankrupt us?

As a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP,) We have, hands down, the most expensive system in the world. For example most European Countries, Canada, Japan, and Australia all have costs in the 10 to 12 percent range, where we spend over 17 %. And they cover everybody, we don’t.

Another argument is that the coverage “there” is not as good as here. It depends on what metric but if you compare the broadest of categories we lose every time. In life expectancy, we don’t even break the top 25. We are far behind the likes of Greece and Canada. How about infant mortality, surely we take care of our neonates. Not nearly as well as most of the others. Our infant mortality rate is twice or more than the rate of Europe. Our rate is even higher than Cuba’s! Maternal mortality rates are even worse. We have on the order of 7 times as many women dying compared to Finland, and about 3 times as many as the average of the rest of the developed world.

Some claim they don’t want some faceless bureaucrat determining their healthcare, but what is the alternative? As a comparison, where do you think the interests lie for an investor in a for-profit insurance company? Why did it take government intervention to ensure coverage for people with preexisting conditions?

We can pay for it through our income taxes. Any increase in taxes will be offset by decreases in the need for private insurance. To ease the transition we can introduce it starting with the most important, childbirth. Prenatal/maternal care should be THE pro-life issue, then the children are kept in the system as they age.

At the other end of the system, we should lower the age for the introduction of Medicare. Currently, most healthcare insurance is provided through the workplace. In the gig economy, lose your job – lose your insurance. It is more difficult and takes more time for quinqua- or sexa- genarians to find a job.

A final argument to debunk is that our government just can’t do the job. Nonsense, our government is as good as or better than that of France, or Great Britain or Germany, right? As the most prosperous democracy, we can do this.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Recycling Woes

There are problems with recycling both locally and nationally. Recycling nationally is being impacted by global politics. Until recently China bought much of our recyclable material. Of late however, they have decided that for both domestic reasons and reasons relating to the trade wars that they will no longer be buying our material. Without that international market the price of some recyclables has been plummeting.

Meanwhile waste has been showing up throughout the biosphere, from vast “islands” of bulk plastics in certain regions of the oceans to microplastics in the guts and even flesh of ocean fish and invertebrates.

Locally, the county has recently decided that the provision of recycling bins in London, Dover, and Hector is too expensive. The only alternative now is for everybody to haul recyclable materials an extra 25 or so miles to the county shop in Russellville. Previously, the bins were available at all hours every day. The county shop location is only open during business hours.

Even in Russellville, recycling is less effective for those without curbside pickup. The city of Russellville’s site at Recycle Works now collects recyclable materials in large open bins with no separation of the material. Previously, enclosed bins with compartments for the different materials were employed. Now, everything is thrown together in the open bins and thus exposed to the weather. This results in much lower yields of usable recyclable material and more waste that must then be hauled off to a landfill.

Again the argument is one of cost. It is cheaper to utilize the open bins, even though the process is less effective. On a recent visit to Recycle Works, I saw a large screen TV and what appeared to be some food waste commingled with the actual recyclable material.

Without recycling opportunities in rural areas, it is likely that we will see an increase in wastes, including recyclables, being dumped in the bar ditches of back roads and ravines. Out of sight, out of mind?

There certainly were some problems with some misuse of the recycle bins. Essentially the bins have been utilized for trash dumping. But abandonment of the process will not make the problem go away. Wouldn’t enclosed bins both rurally and in Russellville be less likely to be abused as trash depots? In this day and age, simple video monitors could be employed. This would help with enforcement of existing laws against littering.

This is a public health matter. I think most the people of Pope county want to do the right thing. The people want waste properly managed and recycling opportunities maintained. In the long run, educating and assisting the public in recycling is going to yield a better outcome at a lower cost.

Better still is to reduce the amount of waste going into the system. Container deposit laws ensure a much greater return of materials for recycling. In Arkansas, several attempts at deposit legislation over the past decade have failed to become law. New bills will be introduced in 2019.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Biofuel from Seaweed

A relatively new contender for a source for biofuels, ethanol from seaweed, has come to the fore. Ethanol is blended with gasoline, commonly a ten percent blend in gasoline or less frequently E-85, a blend of eighty-five percent ethanol with fifteen percent gasoline. The latter is used extensively in Brazil. First a little background on making ethanol by traditional means.

The most common method for making fuel ethanol is fermentation of sugar with yeast. The sugar itself can be had directly from sugar cane, sugar beets or various fruit juices or indirectly from any source of starch such as grains or potatoes. Enzymes obtained from malted barley convert the large polymeric starch into small molecules which the yeast can use as a substrate for fermentation. The process has been known for over five thousand years. The oldest evidence of writing is cuneiform tablets found in modern day Iraq, then known as Sumeria. Some of these ancient tablets have records for beer production and distribution.

Virtually all ethanol produced in the United States is derived from corn and that is a problem on several levels. First and foremost is the fact that the process of capturing energy from sunlight is very inefficient compared to solar panels or wind turbines. Large swathes of land must be dedicated to energy production which otherwise would be suitable for food production. Ethanol from corn also consumes large amounts of fresh water and degrades the soil over time.

Ethanol can hypothetically be produced from plant fiber (cellulose) rather than starch, hence waste plant matter such as grass clippings and leaves could be turned into fuel. Although cellulosic ethanol has been studied intensely for decades, no commercial production has yet been achieved.

Now back to ethanol from seaweed. It’s recently been reported that ethanol can be made from seaweed using a genetically engineered bacteria. This is possible because the chemistry of seaweed is fundamentally different from land plants. Seaweed is comprised of large alginate molecules rather than cellulose or starch.

E. Coli, a bacteria common in the intestines of mammals and birds has been modified so that it has the enzymes necessary to disassemble the seaweed. This releases small molecules similar to sugar just as barley malt releases sugar from starch. A second modification of the genes in the bacteria allow metabolic processes that convert the sugar equivalent to ethanol, hence acting like yeast.

There are a number of advantages to the use of seaweed for fuel production. There is no diversion of food crops to fuel production. Seaweed can be harvested as a perennial crop from coastal areas or salt marshes so there is no impact on freshwater or land erosion. Seaweed production could even have a positive effect in certain coastal areas. Fertilizer runoff from the grain belt ends up in the Mississippi and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. This nutrient-laden water causes unwanted algae blooms which consume oxygen and create a “dead zone.” If seaweed were farmed in this location it could absorb the nutrients for its growth and then be harvested for fuel production- a win-win situation.

Next time you have a little sake (the ethanol portion ) with your sushi (the wrapper part) consider that it could be coming from the same seaweed, all the while cleaning the environment.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University

A Sinister Life

I have spent a lifetime as a lefty in a right-handed world. Left-handedness appears naturally in about ten percent of the population across cultures and across time. The minority status of lefties has resulted in several negative descriptors. In Latin, right and left are dextra and sinistra. The Latin word for right gives us dexterity, and the word for left yields sinister. In French, left is gauche which we incorporated into English with a meaning of awkward or lacking in certain skills.

In my lifetime left-handedness has been suppressed by parents or teachers or at least made difficult. Regardless, a right hand dominated world has existed for eons. Cave Paintings dating back tens of thousands of years depict hunters brandishing their spears in the right hand. Going back hundreds of thousands of years, cut marks on bones from sites of human habitation show that the bone was held in the left hand and cut with the more “dexterous” right hand.

As longs as humans have been, well human, there is evidence of dominant right-handedness. Stone tools have been in use for over two million years. Examination of artifacts of tool preparation show handedness. The simplest of tools, a sharp flake of stone used for cutting is produced by striking one stone, the hammerstone, against another to chip off flakes. Archaic Hammerstones show chip marks that indicate the users were predominantly right-handed.

There are advantages and disadvantages to lefties. In both team and individual sports, lefties have an advantage because opponents have less experience playing against left-handers. On the tennis court and even more importantly at table tennis, slams from lefties come from the opposite side. The football spirals out of a left-handed quarterback in the opposite direction of the more common right-hander. Receivers who practice with left-handed quarterbacks have an advantage over defenders trying to intercept a ball spinning in a direction they aren’t used to. Curveballs from left-handed baseball pitchers break in the opposite direction.

Ah, but we aren’t all professional ball players, and that’s where the advantages may end. The disadvantages begin early in life. Every left-handed student knows the problems. The desks are wrong, the binders are wrong, scissors are wrong and on and on. Writing can be particularly troublesome for left-handed children if teachers aren’t sensitive. Many lefties end up with the “hooked” hand where the wrist is twisted clockwise and the grip of the pencil is close to the lead. This uncomfortable style can result in a certain degree of fatigue and even cramping.

More modern devices are no better: the computer mouse and numeric keypad are for the righty. Game controllers? Right-handed of course. Watch faces and even the clasps on bike helmets are right-handed.

More serious trouble occurs when more advanced tools, especially power tools, come into play. The more complex the tool, the greater the danger. Tools and all their safety features are designed for the majority. And safety is a big issue. There are more power tool injuries among lefties compared to righties. Speaking from personal experience, I have cut, bruised, or broken body parts from the use of right-handed tools. Or is it that I’m just gauche?

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Trump’s Wall is Harmful

The number to undocumented aliens in the United States has been decreasing, not increasing over the past decade. The majority of Americans don’t see a need to spend billions of dollars more on border walls. Yet, the government of the wealthiest nation on the planet is closed for business over arguments to spend money on said wall. What would the harm be to go ahead and spend money on the wall, even if it isn’t necessary nor even wanted by the majority?

Aside from claiming some sort of crisis where none exists, there is the negative impact on the environment. A recent scientific article published in Bioscience and endorsed by over 2,700 scientists lays out the case for opposing the wall.

The border between Mexico and the United states is in total 3,200 kilometers, about 2000 miles. As recently as January 15, William Barr, nominee for Attorney General said before the Senate Judiciary Committee that building a piece of wall here or there will only shift illegal traffic to those locales without a wall. If a wall is to have any effect it must be continuous from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. But even pieces of walls, fences, etc. has a negative effect on the movement of wildlife.

The borderlands region is home to over 1500 species of plants and animals, including 62 species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN.) Construction of any physical barrier entails not just the barrier itself but supporting structures such as roads, lighting, and operational bases. This disrupts the environment, destroys local vegetation, fragments the habitat. The one factor most critical in loss of biodiversity is loss of habitat.

In 2005 the Department of Homeland Security was given authority to override traditional laws protecting the environment, laws such as the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA.) Without these protections wall construction will run roughshod across what is otherwise pristine environments.

Many large mammals normally migrate across the border to and from breeding grounds and overwintering sites. These include both predator and prey species: bighorn sheep, gray wolf, pronghorn antelope, ocelot, and jaguar all have populations on both sides of the border. A wall would isolate and thereby fragment these population to the degree that they may not survive. Even more numerous impacted species are smaller mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans.

Millions of acres of borderlands in the United States and Mexico are managed explicitly for biodiversity. Wall construction would disrupt bilateral agreements with Mexico in the Sonoran desert, Sky Islands region, Big Bend, and the lower Rio Grande.

If physical barriers are absolutely needed, they need to take into account the native biosphere. The barriers need to be constructed so that they are somehow permeable to movements of wildlife. Haste in construction is the enemy of biodiversity. Where construction must occur it should be done with thorough planning to avoid negative effects. In some cases it may be necessary to forego any barrier construction.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.

Nutritional Supplement Scams

This is the time for New Year’s resolutions and many resolve to do better with their health. Diet and exercise changes are frequently at the top of lists of resolutions. One shortcut to better health may be achieved via nutritional supplements, but do they really work?

In 1994, Orin Hatch, Republican of Utah introduced and got passed the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA.) Before this act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversaw the regulation of essentially anything sold that made health claims. Oversight was in the form of requiring proof of efficacy – does it really do what it claims to do. Appropriate, properly controlled studies were needed to support any claims of beneficial health effects.

DSHEA created a loophole by allowing a new category of products, dietary supplements, which henceforth would not require any proof of efficacy. Marketers can now define their product as a dietary supplement, not a drug, and thereby escape any oversight by the FDA. Currently, dietary supplements is a forty billion dollar market, growing at five to ten percent per year. Over half the adult population take some sort of dietary supplements.

Claims of effectiveness are made for the supplements generally through testimonials or vague statements of some testing. None of these need be true! When it comes to supplements, caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.” Actually, the Federal Trade Commission does examine claims for truthfulness. Hence, you will see untestable claims like the nostrum “supports” heart health or memory or some such.

One popular dietary supplement, fish oil capsules, are used daily by eight percent of the adult population of the United States. The fish oil market came about with the recommendations of the American Heart Association. The AHA suggested that fish oil supplementation is beneficial for those with existing cardiovascular disease. It was also recommended to reduce the risk of cancer. The fish oil industry took this recommendation and pitched it to the general population as a way to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tested this hypothesis. A prospective, placebo-controlled study with 26,000 subjects over the age of fifty was conducted. After five years there was no evidence of beneficial health effects, neither reduced rates of cancer nor cardiovascular disease.

Another common supplement, the combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate, is used by many for joint pain, especially weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. The evidence of beneficial effects is variable and limited. Dosage and quality of these agents vary from brand to brand and may account for the variance. The American College of Rheumatology does not recommend the use of Glucosamine/Chondrotin supplements.

Literally thousands of supplements are sold, the effectiveness of which is mostly unproven. Marketing via testimonials and improperly or uncontrolled studies can not provide evidence of efficacy. Whereas a healthier diet and more exercise are well proven to improve health, dietary supplements are not.

Dr. Bob Allen, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Arkansas Tech University.