10 Facts About Pesticides You Didn’t (Want to) Know

Pesticides have been widely used in the U.S. for decades to combat everything from weeds to insects to bacteria.  These compounds allow farmers to cultivate acres of successful crops and keep food on our dinner tables.  But every chemical poses a risk, so I always like to familiarize myself with the chemicals I’m being exposed … Continue reading 10 Facts About Pesticides You Didn’t (Want to) Know

An Alternative To n-Hexane For Doing Oil and Grease Extractions

Volatile.  Flammable.  Skin irritant.  Respiratory irritant.  Possibly fatal if swallowed.  For those of you processing samples according to EPA Method 1664B, you’ve seen these hazard descriptions before – on the safety data sheet (SDS) for n-hexane.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with (or have forgotten about) the hazards related to n-hexane, those are … Continue reading An Alternative To n-Hexane For Doing Oil and Grease Extractions

Your Sample Prep is Only as Good as Your Evaporator

“I love doing maintenance.  It’s the best part of my week” – said nobody ever. Let’s be honest.  We all dread performing maintenance.  Why?  It’s boring. I’m a chemist and I’d rather spend my time using my instrument than maintaining it. It seems unnecessary. I’m a fan of what I call “sensory maintenance” – that … Continue reading Your Sample Prep is Only as Good as Your Evaporator

In Defense of Methylene Chloride

If you’re familiar with methylene chloride (which I’m sure you are since it’s one of the most widely used laboratory solvents), you know that it’s developed a reputation for being one of the “bad boys” of the solvent world.  The bad press has certainly been earned.  It’s been attributed to over 60 deaths in the … Continue reading In Defense of Methylene Chloride

Environmental Pollution – Are We All Doomed?

Have you ever stopped to enjoy a bright, vibrant sunset, only to have that really annoying friend interrupt your thoughts with a comment like “you know you’re just looking at all the pollution in the air, right?” I used to wonder how someone could focus on pollution while looking at a stunning landscape, but it’s … Continue reading Environmental Pollution – Are We All Doomed?

5 Sources of Phthalate and Adipate Contamination You Probably Didn’t Know About

“Why do I keep seeing background contamination from phthalate and adipate when I do extractions for semi-volatiles?” This is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked when I’m traveling in the field.  It’s an issue I’ve come across in my own lab on occasion and if you can’t find the source of your … Continue reading 5 Sources of Phthalate and Adipate Contamination You Probably Didn’t Know About

The Hidden Dangers of Organic Solvents

“Our laboratory uses organic solvents every day.  Should we be concerned about solvent exposure?” I hear this question fairly often and the short and simple answer is: YES. But if this were a simple yes/no question, I wouldn’t have anything else to say, and this would be the shortest blog post that’s ever been written.

Everything You Wanted to Know About EPA Method 8270 But Were Afraid to Ask

On the surface, EPA Method 8270 seems pretty straightforward.  The first version of this method was published over a decade ago and many environmental labs are processing samples according to the guidelines in this method.  The EPA summarizes the goals of the method in a single sentence on their website: “This method [is] for analysis … Continue reading Everything You Wanted to Know About EPA Method 8270 But Were Afraid to Ask

Organochlorine Pesticides: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

“Pesticides” is one of those terms that invokes a wide range of emotions in people.  Some people smile when they think of the insecticides that keep their award-winning flower garden looking beautiful all season.  Some people feel grateful for the algaecides in their fish tank that let their kids’ pet fish (who’ve probably been given … Continue reading Organochlorine Pesticides: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly