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Flush-Free Fertilizer
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Frogs and Toads
Baboons Listen for Who's Tops
G-Tunes with a Message
Little Beetle, Big Horns
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Baby Number Whizzes
Copycat Monkeys
Chemistry and Materials
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Sticky Silky Feet
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Inspired by Nature
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Finding the Past
The Taming of the Cat
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Stone Tablet May Solve Maya Mystery
Manta Rays
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Food and Nutrition
The Color of Health
The mercury in that tuna
Sponges' secret weapon
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Who vs. Whom
Subject and Verb Agreement
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Play for Science
A Sweet Advance in Candy Packing
Human Body
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Dreaming makes perfect
Sleeping Soundly for a Longer Life
Basset Hounds
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The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Thinner Air, Less Splatter
Extra Strings for New Sounds
The Mirror Universe of Antimatter
Surprise Visitor
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Making the most of a meal
Space and Astronomy
A Dusty Birthplace
Catching a Comet's Tail
Unveiling Titan
Technology and Engineering
Sugar Power for Cell Phones
Bionic Bacteria
Smart Windows
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun
Problems with Prepositions
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
How to Fly Like a Bat
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The Down Side of Keeping Clean

Wash your hands. Brush your teeth. Scrub the toilet. Do the dishes. Being clean is supposed to keep us healthy by destroying bacteria that make us sick. But our meticulous attention to cleanliness might have a down side. New research suggests that the chemicals we use to clean and disinfect could be damaging the environment by killing off algae at the base of the food chain. Over the past decade, the war against bacteria has been escalating. From dish soap to toothpaste, cleaning products have become increasingly deadly to the tiny troublemakers. After getting dumped down the drain, those household chemicals usually go straight through the sewer system and into lakes and streams, ignored by wastewater treatment plants. Curious about the environmental effects of all that chemical runoff, environmental scientist Brittan A. Wilson of the University of Kansas in Lawrence and colleagues collected algae from a Kansas stream. In the lab, the scientists doused the algae with three common household chemicals in concentrations comparable to levels often found in American streams. The number of species of algae and overall growth of algae dropped in samples treated with the chemicals, but not in untreated samples, the researchers report. Those results may be alarming, but they shouldn't be a complete surprise. "It's stupid to think that chemicals that keep toothpaste safe from bacteria won't have an effect at the other end of the sewer pipe," says ecologist Stanley I. Dodson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. What is surprising is that even low concentrations of the chemicals can have a big effect.—E. Sohn

The Down Side of Keeping Clean
The Down Side of Keeping Clean

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