The Chemistry of SPE

New year – fresh start

If you’re like me, you start the new year off with a list of resolutions for the coming months – resolutions to be more fit or to secure a promotion at work or to reduce your carbon footprint. Whether you’re trying to improve your health or further your career, these are the types of goals that I like to refer to as getting “back to basics” because they require you to start with a solid foundation which you can build on to achieve success.

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Naphthalene – Are You Ingesting More Than You Realize?

How familiar are you with naphthalene?

If you have ever used mothballs for storing clothing, you are pretty familiar with a compound known as naphthalene. If you are asking questions like “how would I know if I’ve used mothballs?” or “remind me, what do mothballs look like?” then you’ve never spent any significant time around them. If you had, you would vividly remember the smell that hits you like a brick and brings you to your knees.

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Changes to EPA Method 625 – How do They Affect You?

With the prevalence of contaminants in wastewater today, it is important to have a method for properly extracting and quantifying those compounds, to allow our wastewater treatment plants to remove them during the treatment process, when and where they need to.

The U.S. EPA has written a number of methods for determining contaminants in wastewater – compounds from organophosphorus pesticides (Method 614.1) to organochlorine pesticides (Method 608.3) to chlorinated hydrocarbons (Method 612) have EPA-published methods for guidance. The method I want to focus on here is that for determining bases, neutrals and acids (Method 625.1) and I’m highlighting it because there’s been a change in how this method can be executed, which could have a significant impact on your laboratory. Curious about what I’m alluding to? Read on!

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Pesticide Contamination – Is That Water Safe to Drink?

Have you ever spent the day walking through the woods, paused to take in the natural sights, smells and sounds of a babbling brook or flowing waterfall and thought….“I wonder how many pesticides are in that water?”

I recently experienced this when I escaped from the stress and chaos of real life to spend a day hiking through the woods. I mapped out my route, packed plenty of snacks and water, and tossed my camera (i.e. my iPhone which has a camera) into my backpack, and I was off. I wasn’t far into my hike before I heard the familiar rush of moving water. Excited at the thought of finding a natural stream or brook, I rushed toward the noise until I reached the edge of a bank that overlooked a flowing river. As I took in the breath-taking scenery, I found myself lost in thoughts like “I wonder how polluted this water is?” or “I bet there are pesticides in this water. Is it safe to drink?”

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Tuesday Trivia – Answer for October 2, 2018

Just a reminder of last week’s post:

EPA Method 8270 outlines a method for extracting a quantifying a number of compounds, of which hexachlorocyclopentadiene is one. However, this compound can be difficult to recover. Why? (choose all that apply)

(a) It is photoreactive and decomposes when exposed to light

(b) It is chemically reactive and reacts with certain organic solvents

(c) It has a relatively high vapor pressure and evaporates a bit at room temperature

(d)  It is susceptible to thermal degradation

(e)  None of the above

Answer: a, b and d

If you selected a, b, c and d, you were close. Hexachlorocyclopentadiene is a relatively reactive compound which lends it to photo-induced, chemical-induced and thermal-induced reactions; however, it is not hard to recover due to evaporative losses. In fact, this compound has a relatively low vapor pressure and is unlikely to rapidly evaporate from standards and samples that are at room temperature.

Join us next week to Expand Your Horizon!

Water Pollution – Are Killer Whales the Next Victims of PCB Contamination?

Are whales such as our beloved SeaWorld friend, Shamu, soon to be a distant memory? A recent study published by Science predicts a significant decline – possibly a complete population collapse – in killer whales, stemming from PCB pollution.

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Tuesday Trivia – October 2, 2018

Happy Tuesday! This week’s question will focus on one of the EPA methods used for extracting semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) prior to analysis by GC/MS. Are you ready to Expand Your Horizon?

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5 Myths About Oil & Grease

If you were ever a fan of the show MythBusters, you can appreciate the hours I spent watching myths being confirmed or busted in the most entertaining ways. For me, this show was appealing because the scientific theory was used to design and test experiments to produce facts about interesting phenomena such as: humans use only 10% of their brains, a household vacuum cleaner can generate enough suction to lift a car into the air, or a goldfish’s memory is only 3 seconds long.

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