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.
1,4 dioxane – sometimes referred to as just dioxane – has gotten a lot of press since the U.S. EPA added it to the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3). It is a relatively common solvent in analytical laboratories; however, it also finds use as a stabilizer for manufacturing items such as shampoo, cosmetics and food additives. After the EPA deemed this compound “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” and found it in a number of groundwater sources across the U.S., 1,4 dioxane was added to the UCMR 3 list and is now a regulated, routinely monitored contaminant.
If you’ve ever taken on a home renovation project and needed to purchase wall paint, you may have looked at “low VOC” or “no VOC” paint. Even if you don’t know what VOCs are, you are likely familiar with the terrible, headache-inducing smell that greets you when you pry the lid off a new can. Not only is the odor unpleasant, but the fumes are harmful when you breathe them in over a prolonged period of time.
Solvent drying is a key step in many laboratories that are using organic solvents for syntheses and extractions. In the case of hexane extractions during oil and grease measurements, this step is necessary to ensure that the extracts are accurately dried, concentrated and weighed.
If I had to use a single word to describe aquariums, it would be “magical.” Whether you’re a child or a child at heart (like me!), it is easy to get lost with the turtles, sea lions, eels, sharks and any other aquatic life you can imagine. The exhibits closely mimic the sights, sounds and smells of each aquatic environment – so closely, that you might think you’re out in the ocean or in the middle of the Antarctic.
If you are unfamiliar with terms like “fatberg” and “FOG,” you might not realize the significance and environmental ramifications of this phenomenon. Your perspective will change if you look through recent news articles where fatbergs have blocked and damaged sewer systems in major cities.
Photo credit: Thames Water
I was at a tradeshow the other day and overheard a conversation that stayed with me. The conversation was taking place between two colleagues who were reminiscing about their days in the college chemistry lab.
It’s Tuesday again – ready to Expand Your Horizon? For those who are joining us for the first time, every Tuesday is Trivia Tuesday where we test our wits on various topics. We welcome all reasonable – as well as creative – guesses!
The Tuesday Trivia question for this week:
Imagine shrinking the Earth’s water supply down to 100 liters. The volume of fresh, usable water would be roughly _____(fill in the blank)_____ liters.
Keep an eye out for the answer next Tuesday …