Simplified BPA Analysis

Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most widely produced chemicals in the world – approximately 4 million metric tons annually.  In recent years, BPA has received a lot of negative attention.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a plastic item in the store that didn’t have a “BPA free” marking on it.  These labels are for good reason, though, as BPA has been found to produce negative hormonal effects within the body.  BPA is a chemical that mimics estrogen and disrupts the endocrine system, which can lead to developmental disorders, thyroid issues, diabetes and even reproductive organ cancers.  BPA is so prevalent because it has many uses in polymer chemistry.  First and foremost, BPA is used as a monomer in the production of polycarbonate, a very hard thermoplastic which has countless applications, including: water bottles, baby bottles, CDs, DVDs, eyeglass lenses and many more.

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Understanding SPE Retention Mechanisms

As a chemist, I’ve constantly stressed the importance of proper sample preparation.  Whether I’m diluting, digesting, preconcentrating, extracting, or performing a combination of these, sample preparation is the key to making my analysis a success, yet it’s often the most challenging part of my workflow.  Some of my preparation procedures are simply daunting – a series of challenging, time-consuming steps with multiple opportunities for error or cross-contamination.  On top of that is the multitude of parameters that must be selected.  Questions such as “what should the pH be?”, “which solvents should I use?” and “what should my sample volume be?” are a few of the many, many parameters that must be optimized.  When you look at all the opportunities for something to go wrong, sample preparation can seem very overwhelming.  While powerful, sample preparation becomes a lot less complicated when you understand the science behind what you’re trying to accomplish with this step.

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What does a thermistor do anyway?

It is easier to understand something when you know what the actual word means.  Thermistor is a portmanteau (yes, sometimes I do pay attention to linguistics) of the words thermal and resistor.  This means that when a thermistor is heated, its resistance is either increased or decreased based on the properties of that particular thermistor.  This property makes it very useful for many different applications all over the world.  But thermistors are most useful, at least from my perspective, when they’re used in automated solid phase extraction systems.

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Extraction of Polyphenols in Tea with Lemon Juice

For thousands of years, tea has been one of the most popular drinks around the world. Not only is tea delicious, it is also full of health benefits. Tea is an abundant source of antioxidants called polyphenols. One of these polyphenolic compounds, catechins, are found mostly in green tea. Catechins have been studied thoroughly and have been found to reduce free radical stress, they have also been found to be anti-inflammatory as well as potentially therapeutic for cancer cells.

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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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Tuesday Trivia – December 11, 2018

Happy Tuesday! The final question for 2018 focuses on the EPA 500 Series methods that have been developed to quantify organic contaminants in drinking water. For those unfamiliar, EPA Method 525.2 outlines the extraction and quantification of organic compounds in drinking water. The EPA eventually revised the method and released Method 525.3. The updated revision incorporates a number of changes to improve the extraction and quantification of drinking water contaminants. Continue reading Tuesday Trivia – December 11, 2018

Be the Solution to Soil Pollution

“The Earth is what we all have in common.”

                   -Wendell Berry

If you are like me, you spent yesterday honoring World Soil Day with a variety of research and community activities to acknowledge the importance of this valuable resource. If you live in a colder climate area and the ground is starting to freeze, perhaps your activities were more indoor-focused. That’s OK too.

When you give it some thought, soil is quite an impressive material. In its most simplistic definition, soil is just the Earth’s outer most layer. However, if you dig a little deeper (no pun intended!), soil is the layer of Earth that we depend on in every aspect of our lives.

Soil is what we use to grow our trees and plants which provide us with food to eat and clean air to breathe. It provides us with a stable surface to build our homes and roads. It also stores water and nutrients, provides a nutritious and sustainable environment for billions of organisms, and has the ability to filter toxic contaminants from our surrounding environment. In other words, soil is one of our most precious resources.

“The biggest threat to soil is ignorance and indifference.”

Unfortunately, soil has a finite capacity for retaining contaminants, and decades of industrial pollution, farming activities and improper urban waste disposal have saturated and exceeded the filtering ability of this resource in many parts of the world.  Compounding this issue is the fact that soil pollution is a hidden danger.  People cannot see the direct impact of their contributions, causing many of them to become oblivious to the magnitude and prevalence of this problem.

As the Earth’s population continues to grow – projections indicate our population numbers will reach almost 10 billion by 2050 – people need to be more diligent than ever in protecting our life-sustaining resources. We keep this thought at the forefront of the solutions we provide, so World Soil Day is a great reminder and opportunity for us to continue developing solutions to monitor and protect our soil for generations to come. After all, healthy (contaminant-free) soil could make the difference between a healthy, thriving ecosystem and a starving, barren wasteland.

Let us know how you celebrated World Soil Day in the comments below!

Tuesday Trivia – Answer for November 13, 2018

Just a reminder of last week’s post:

The United States has been using pesticides for decades to protect crops and livestock from disease, mold, insect damage and many other types of pesky organisms. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), roughly 540 million pounds of pesticides were used in 1964. How many pounds of pesticides were being used across the nation by 1993?

Answer: 1.1 billion

Technically, the term “pesticide” is a somewhat generic term to describe a substance that controls pests. Based on that definition, pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and many more chemical solutions. Given the increase in the U.S. population between 1964 and 1993, and the growth in the number of viruses, fungi, bacteria and other organisms that could endanger the health of our crops and livestock, it’s not surprising that our use of pesticides rose significantly over that period of time.

Join us next week to Expand Your Horizon!

Surefire Ways to Avoid Fat Gain During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again – avoiding the Thanksgiving “Fatberg”

Thanksgiving is that special time of year that we gather together with family and friends to give thanks and experience traditions that are carried on through generations. Our Thanksgiving meal consists of: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and homemade cranberry sauce. We also serve the not-so-customary stuffed artichokes – a family favorite, passed down from my Italian grandparents. Continue reading Surefire Ways to Avoid Fat Gain During the Holidays