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Chemistry of Football

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Safety first—helmets were originally made of leather, but this all changed in 1939, when the John T. Riddell Company introduced plastic helmets that were stronger, lighter, and more durable.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.

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