Tag Archives: environment

Can colour save lives?

I have worked in colour for pretty much all my working life. Though it has led to a rewarding and stimulating career (with a little bit of success) and though my passion for colour has never waned, I do sometimes wonder if i could have put my life to something more useful. Not that colour is not useful, far from it, but what I mean is something that could save lives. For example, perhaps I could have become a researcher looking into a cure for cancer. Compared with research like that, doesn’t colour sometimes seem frivolous and secondary?

So my Friday morning today was just cheered up a little when I came across an article in the Grundig about how colour-changing technology could revolutionise the medical industry. Apparently, 1.3 million people die each year because of unsafe injections, making the humble injection the most dangerous clinical procedure in the world. Part of the problem is that syringes are sometimes accidentally reused without sterilisation.


In response to this serious issue, David Swann at the University of Huddersfield – just down the road from where I work – developed a “behaviour-changing syringe” that warns when the needle is unsafe. Once opened the syringe turns bright red within sixty seconds. It’s not even expense. Apparently a standard syringe costs 2.5 pence whereas the “behaviour-changing syringe” costs 2.65 pence.

See the original article here.

natural colours

The Guardian has reported that Nestlé has removed artificial ingredients from their entire confectionary range. However, I am not sure that this is worth making too much of a song and dance about. The public have a natural aversion to artificial colorants. Surely natural is better? Well, not necessarily.

The foliage and berries of the Deadly Nightshade plant are extremely toxic. Apple seeds can be fatal if eaten in large enough quantities (they contain a small amount of amygdalin). The kidney bean is poisonous if not correctly cooked. The puffafish – known in Japan as Fugu – can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin; therefore, it must be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat. All of these things are natural.

Lots of natural products are not harmful. But there are many many artificial chemicals that are completely identical (chemically) to their naturally occurring and harmless equivalents. It’s strange that we are so keen to believe that natural is good and man-made is bad. Sometimes it is true, but sometimes it is not.