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Chemistry of Football

by LabNotes

It’s that time of year again – Football Season Is Back!

As we enter into another season, we think of tailgating, our favorite players’ stats and all of the fun in between. But, do we ever stop and think of all the chemistry that is needed for football to happen?

The ball itself is a marvel of chemistry. The ball’s internal bladder is typically 98% polyisobutylene and 2% isoprene. The process of conditioning the ball’s leather can be intense and involves tanning raw cow hide several times. The leather is soaked repeatedly in Chromium to soften the material and make it ready for play.

Safety first—helmets were originally made of leather, but this all changed in 1939, when the John T. Riddell Company introduced plastic helmets that were stronger, lighter, and more durable. Plastic football helmets today are made from molded polycarbonate shells with foam padding (either polyurethane, polystyrene, polypropylene, or ethylene vinyl acetate). Safety features, thanks to innovations in plastics, do not stop there. Mouth guards and pads worn under uniforms are also made from a variety of plastics, helping to absorb shock.

No matter who you root for this football season, just remember—#ChemistryMatters on and off the field.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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