Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Apple bans some chemicals from IPhones | Chem Service Certified Reference Standards | Greyhound Chromatography

Learn about the chemicals that Apple has banned from its iPhones

August, 2014, technology giant Apple announced it would ban the use of benzene and n-hexane from its creation of iPhones, iPads and other devices. Following petitions from activist groups Green America and China Labor Watch, and an investigation of 22 manufacturers that found no harmful levels of these two chemicals, Apple said that it would recommend to its suppliers that the two chemical compounds were longer to be used. The devices will be tested following production to ensure compliance.

The ban will affect Apple suppliers and manufacturers in China, Ireland, the U.S. and Brazil. Although benzene and n-hexane are used in similar devices from other companies, the criticism of its use was focused on Apple. As a researcher, chemist or curious iPhone user, you may be wondering why benzene and n-hexane were singled out in the chemical-rich manufacturing process. Here is some helpful background information on these two chemical compounds.

Whether or not most Americans are aware, benzene is in a significant number of products and commodities in the U.S. The American Cancer Society explained that benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals, and is found in products ranging from plastics, rubbers and dyes to gasoline exhaust and cigarette smoke.

Firefighters, printers, lab technicians, steel workers and researchers are likely to be exposed to benzene, which can be harmful to those who deal with it regularly. This chemical compound is a known cause of cancer, the ACS noted, with particular ties to Leukaemia. Benzene causes cancer, Anaemia or other conditions by inhibiting normal function of human cells. Early symptoms of benzene poisoning or exposure include dizziness, headaches and confusion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Colourless and liquid at normal temperatures, benzene is flammable and smells sweet. It is created through natural as well as man-made means, including from volcanoes or burning fuel. The process of burning of benzoic acid, C6H5CO2H, leads to benzene, C6H6.

People can also come into contact with benzene through gasoline fumes, exhaust from factories, or in contaminated food or drinking water. Benzene is an important and useful substance in modern chemistry, primarily for production of certain products. But, its negative effects on workers and communities underscore the importance of safe and correct use.

Made from crude oil, n-hexane is similar to a solvent in its uses. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the CDC pointed to the extraction of vegetable oil from crops such as soy as a major use of n-hexane. This chemical compound, C6H14, is colourless and highly flammable, like benzene. However, it has a bad odour.

Used in gasoline, rubber cement, textiles, furniture, shoes and printing, n-hexane is a common chemical compound. Most people will have come into at least a small amount of n-hexane through breathing gasoline exhaust. Inhalation can easily lead to exposure for people who are working with the chemical, which highlights the importance of safe lab and manufacturing practices when working with volatile chemicals.

Unlike benzene, n-hexane is not known to lead to cancer, but prolonged exposure has been known to damage the nervous system.

Other Apple chemical changes
Although the elimination of these chemicals was likely tied to the petition filed by activists, this move has been one among many lately for Apple that reduce the use of potentially harmful chemicals. CNN reported that Apple has also made efforts toward safer chemical use by eliminating PVC from certain power cords, design displays that do not use mercury and products without brominated flame retardants.

Chem Service Certified Reference Standards are supplied by Greyho0und Chromatography and Allied Chemicals, 6 Kelvin Park, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 1LT  Tel:  +44 (0) 151 649 4000  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why do bananas require so many pesticides?

 Why do bananas require so many pesticides?


Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. About 115 million tons of bananas are consumed each year, produced in more than 100 countries. Americans eat more bananas than any other fruit, consuming 6.4 billion bananas a year on its own, with every American each eating an average of 10 pounds per year.

Despite this massive demand for bananas, the sweet fruit cannot be grown in the U.S. The burden of supplying the global banana hunger falls on countries in the tropics, including Costa Rica, India, Brazil, Ecuador and many others. Although these countries have excellent climates for growing bananas, they also breed a variety of pests and fungi that can wreak havoc on this popular crop.

The chief of sustainable agriculture for the nonprofit organization Rainforest Alliance Chris Willie talked to NPR's All Things Considered about how the climate presents a variety of dangers to banana harvesting. He explained that the warm, humid, remote plantations are prone to the growth of an airborne fungus called Black Sigotoka. This growth can destroy an entire plantation in about a week – a costly problem for this profitable fruit.

Worms, fruit-hungry insects and tree diseases are also common problems in banana plantations, Willie told NPR. To combat these risk factors, most banana farmers and fruit companies turn to a cocktail of pesticides that can help reduce the damage from each of the banana's many enemies. Examine some the most common pesticides used on banana plantations to understand the industry better, whether as a researcher or consumer.

Chlorpyrifos - An insecticide, acaricide and miticide, chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate used on many crops throughout the world. Although formerly used as a household insecticide, the Environmental Protection Agency has placed many restrictions on the product, which has been found to have negative effects on those who use the chemical compound. Chlorpyrifos, chemically written as C9H11Cl3NO3PS, has been in use for more than 40 years and is seen by some as a smart alternative to pesticides that kill beneficial insects.

Thiabendazole – ​Thiabendazole, also known as the medications Mintezol and Tresaderm, is a fungicide and parasiticide that is used on banana planatations. Its chemical formula is C10H7N3S. Thiabendazole is the most common pesticide residue found in bananas, occuring in 48.1 percent of the bananas tested, according to the Pesticide Action Network North America. Although banana farmers use particularly high amounts of pesticides, with the Environmental Working Group putting the number at 35 pounds per acre, the residues aside from thiabendazole are particularly low because the banana peel protects the edible portion from many chemicals.

Azoxystrobin - Azoxystrobin is also a fungicide, used for a variety of produce farming. Known by commercial names including Amistar and Heritage, azoxystrobin is effective against multiple fungi such as powdery mildew, late blight, apple scab and rusts. Absorbed through the banana tree's roots it moves through the leaves to keep fungus at bay. Referred to as Methyl (E)-2-{2-[6-(2-cyanophenoxy) pyrimidin-4-yloxy]phenyl}-3-methoxyacrylate), azoxystrobin has a low toxicity to most avian, aquatic and terrestrial animals.

Imidacloprid - Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which acts as a neurotoxic insecticide. This chemical compound, 1-(6-chloro-3-pyridylmethyl)-N-nitroimidazolidin-2-ylideneamine, can be used as a seed treatment or applied topically, and is effective against soil, chewing and sucking insects, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, a joint body between the EPA and Oregon State University.

Complications of pesticides in banana plantations

Although most growers see pesticide use as critical to the success of banana farming, critics point to the detrimental effects that these chemical compounds have had on animals near the plantations, such as crocodiles in Costa Rica. Fish have died in large numbers as well.  Specialists work with banana plantations to reduce the amount of pesticides used and introduced to the wild life through improper use.

Author:  Chris Boyd, Chem Service Inc  August 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Analyze the Herbicide Sulcotrione’s Impact on Consumers | Chem Service Pesticides | Greyhound Chromatography

Analyze the Herbicide Sulcotrione’s Impact on Consumers


In the U.S., China and Europe, sulcotrione is used as an herbicide for farming. Sulcotrione works to inhibit 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase, better known as HPPD, in plants, the journal Herbicides, Theory and Applications explained. This triketone-type herbicide is commonly used on weeds and other unwanted vegetation to protect crop grasses like wheat, barley, and corn or maize.

Like many pesticides used in commercial farming operations, it is important that the chemicals designed for effectively killing invasive plants are not also harmful for human consumption, as they may be absorbed by food through the soil. Here are a few of the most prominent studies done of the herbicide and how it reacts with humans and the environment.

European Chemicals Agency study
In 2011, the European Chemicals Agency Committee for Risk Assessment adopted the opinion that sulcotriones fit the category of a substance that is a hazard to aquatic plant life and should be labeled as such.

"Sulcotrione therefore fulfills the criteria for classification as aquatic environmental hazard acute category 1, H400 and aquatic environmental hazard chronic category 1, H410." the ECHA report found after analyzing an array of data.

The chemical's degradability in varied PHs, its ecotoxicity, and bioaccumulation were considered when deciding that it should be labeled differently and concentration restrictions should be put in place.

During the course of researching the herbicide's effects, researchers concluded that there were no notable health detriments noticed to humans. Monkeys and rats passed the chemical quickly through their waste, mostly as urine.

The only area where danger was observed was in plants in a water ecosystem. The report explained that this was logical because, "the relative sensitivity of aquatic plants reflects the intended function of the substance (a herbicide)."

Other relevant studies
There are several other studies that also analyze sulcotrione's impact, some of which may have been used in the ECHA's decision.

A 2002 study from scientists at of the Korea Research Institute Chemical Technology looked at diuron, fluridone, or sulcotrione in relation to chlorophyll and carotenoid reduction. They found evidence that the stopping electron transport by limiting the amount of plastoquinone in plants is a reason for the herbicide's effectiveness.

Researchers from Université Blaise-Pascal in France found in 2009 with photochemical experiments that sulcotriones became more toxic to the environment than with itself and its metabolites alone. The researchers suggested that the material be used in further experiments.

Like many herbicides, sulcotrione can be harmful to the environment in certain circumstances, past the desired effects. This underscores the importance of pesticide standards testing and proper use of an herbicide, or there may be unintended negative consequences for the area around the farm.

Author:July 2, 2014 Christopher Boyd, Chem Service Inc

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