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Microbes at the Gas Pump
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Frogs and Toads
The Littlest Lemurs
Insects Take a Breather
Navigating by the Light of the Moon
Listening to Birdsong
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A Classroom of the Mind
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Dinosaurs and Fossils
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Results of GSAT are in schools this week
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Alien Invasions
Finding the Past
Writing on eggshells
Stone Tablet May Solve Maya Mystery
Stonehenge Settlement
Flashlight Fishes
Food and Nutrition
The Essence of Celery
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GSAT English Rules
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Play for Science
Human Body
Sleeping Soundly for a Longer Life
Running with Sneaker Science
Attacking Asthma
Giant Squid
Shih Tzus
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Black Hole Journey
The Pressure of Scuba Diving
One ring around them all
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Underwater Jungles
Garter Snakes
Black Mamba
Space and Astronomy
Killers from Outer Space
Chaos Among the Planets
Catching a Comet's Tail
Technology and Engineering
Bionic Bacteria
Supersuits for Superheroes
Young Scientists Take Flight
The Parts of Speech
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
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Adjectives and Adverbs
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Robots on the Road, Again
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Watering the Air
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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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