pH value is the best known parameter for characterizing acidity of a solution. The pH of a neutral solution is around 7. In acidic solutions, such as battery acid, pH is around 0. In alkaline solutions, such as certain bleaches and drain cleaners, the pH value can be as high as 14. One may ask: why is the solution neutral at pH 7? What is the origin of this reference point? The answer is: it originates in the properties of water as solvent and the pH scale ranging from 0 to 14 with 7 as the neutrality point is limited to aqueous (i.e. containing water as solvent) solutions only. Luckily, many objects of interest either are (or can be regarded as an approximation) aqueous solutions. But by far not all. pH in organic solvents is completely different: different organic solvents (acetonitrile, DMSO, tetrahydrofuran, etc) have different pH scales. For example in acetonitrile (a widely used solvent on organic and analytical chemistry) the neutral pH is ca 19, in sulfuric acid ca 1.5 (see more examples in the VIP paper “Anchor points for the Unified Brønsted Acidity Scale” in Chem. Eur. J. 2011, 17, 5808-5826)

The pH values in different solvents, expressed in their own scales, are absolutely noncomparable. The pH 19 in acetonitrile corresponds by its acidity pretty well to pH 7 in water. Nevertheless, this is more a coincidence than anything else: the pH 1.5 in sulfuric acid is not even near neutrality in terms of aqueous pH. On the contrary, this solution is so acidic that such acidity cannot be realized in water at all. Its equivalent pH in water would be negative: ca -20.

Why is that so? The reason lies in chemical properties of the different solvents. Contrary to the common knowledge the pH value of a solution does not correspond to the negative logatrithm of hydrogen ion H+ concentration in the solution but to the negative logarithm of H+ activity in the solution: pH = -log[a(H+)]. In different solvents the same number of H+ ions can have vastly different activity because they are bound to solvent molecules with different strength. This causes their different “efficiency” in making solution acidic. This in turn means different efficiency in catalyzing reactions, reacting with bases, etc. Hydrogen ions in acetonitrile are much more active than in water. Hydrogen ions in DMSO are less active than in water.

The above mentioned noncomparability is very inconvenient: using the conventional pH scales in different solvents it is impossible to make comparisons of the behavior of the solutions in different chemical and technological processes.

Recently a very important step was made towards achieving comparability of acidities in different solvents: a universal pH scale based on the chemical activity (chemical potential) of H+ was created that allows expressing the acidities of solutions in different solvents (including acidity in organic solvents) using a single scale of so-called pHabs values. This pHabs scale embraces the pH scales in different solvents as is seen in the picture on the left. More information can be found in the paper “Anchor points for the Unified Brønsted Acidity Scale” in Chem. Eur. J. 2011, 17, 5808-5826. The beauty of this approach is that it is completely universal: in addition to liquids (e.g. organic solvents) the universl pH scale can be applied also to gases, solids, gels, etc. The main remaining problem is the experimental realization of the universal pH scale: direct comparison of acidities in different solvents is not easy. Work towards this is in progress.

Yesterday (on July 31, 2010) the closing ceremony of the MSC Summer School 2010 took place in Lepanina (Estonia). Results of the learning evaluation and student game were presented and certificates were awarded to the participants.

Traditionally the summer school featured a game-contest of student teams (laboratories) with the task to carry out determination of food dyes in syrup for a fictional company called “SweetDrink”. The task was a complex one. It included discussion with the customer on their needs and requirements, developing analytical procedure, validating and documenting it, calibrating the photometer, carrying out the actual determination, making analytical report for the customer and finally defending all that in front of a panel composed of customer representatives and “nasty” teachers. The game this year was won by team called “InterLab” (Heidi Pyhtilä, Katarzyna Sidoruk, Roman Kranvogl, Daniel Silveira), see picture on the right. Their results beautifully agreed with the reference values and had realistic uncertainty estimates. They also beat all others in the ability to answer questions and explain their work. In the picture on the left some of the team members demonstrate their lab skills.

We hope that the summer school was on one hand professionally useful for all participating students and on the other hand also fun and interesting international experience: students from altogether nine countries participated in the summer school (Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, France, Finland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Thailand). The next MSC Summer School will take place in July-August 2011 in Poznan (Poland).

All available pictures (including ones from Tavo and Petko) have now been uploaded to the MSC Summer School 2010 Picasaweb album. Altogether 355 pictures! Nevertheless, all participants are warmly welcome to send me (or publish on Facebook, etc) nice pictures that they have from the summer school.

The trend of increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is well known. During recent years another, possibly as serious and wide-ranging, trend has caught the attention of scientists: decrease of dissolved oxygen concentration (deoxygenation) in the world’s oceans. In a recent review paper Ocean Deoxygenation in a Warming World. Ralph F. Keeling, Arne Körtzinger and Nicolas Gruber, Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2010, 2:199–229 the authors give overview of the possible reasons, the current status and possible consequences of ocean deoxygenation. Deoxygenation is believed to occur because of an interplay of several reasons, such as lower solubility of oxygen in warmer water and stratification of the upper oxygen layers, both being consequences of global warming. There are significant zones in the world’s oceans that are termed hypoxic (meaning that marine organisms suffer from various stresses) that have emerged during just the recent decades. The largest such zone is in the northern Pacific Ocean with the area of several tens of millions of square kilometers. Current evidence indicates that more significant changes are looming, with potentially very serious impact on the marine ecosystems and on the whole world.

There is currently no full understanding of the causes of the deoxygenation processes neither their possible consequences. In order to develop models that would help to understand and predict deoxygenation and its consequences, accurate data on dissolved oxygen content in oceans are needed very much. Obtaining such data is a major measurement science challenge. The sensors (actually sensor arrays, to allow measurements at different depths) used must be automatic in order to obtain sufficient amount of data. The measurement results made in different locations and at different times must be comparable, which makes sensor stability and rigorous calibration very important. We hope to contribute to this challenge by metrological characterization of dissolved oxygen sensors, evaluation of the reliability of the data and developing new calibration approaches (see some recent results).

Today (23.07.2010) the summer school continued on water: canoeing on the Navesti River (Soomaa National Park), followed by bogwalking in the bogs. A very typical for Estonia form of nature. Pictures are available from Picasaweb (please scroll down).

On Monday, July 19, 2010 the third Measurement Science in Chemistry International Summer School started at the coast of the Baltic Sea in Lepanina (Pärnumaa, Estonia). There are students from nine countries (Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia, France, Portugal, Finland, Thailand, Croatia). The summer school covers a wide-ranging list of topics: Validation of chemical analysis procedures, Basic statistics, Statistical basis of calibration, Traceability in chemical analysis, Alternative Approaches for the Quantification of Measurement Uncertainty, ISO 17025, Accreditation visit to real lab, Sampling and sample preparation in food and environmental analysis, Customer-analyst interactions,
Importance of reliable measurements to implement EU legislation.

Strong emphasis is put on interactive learning, group works and learning by role play. Some flavor of the summer school can be got from the pictures (via Picasaweb). This picture gallery will be updated as the summer school progresses.

Passive House is a concept followed after the energy efficient house but it shouldn’t be confused with Zero Energy Buildings.

Passive House is a building designed carefully and built with modern insulation and building materials and techniques and controlled with a program called PHPP (passive house planning package). PHPP is a verification procedure for the building specific values. It is not so easy to find a reliable information throughout the internet about passive houses and passive house elements. However, there are certain hoaxes, which can not be easily defied unless having the proper knowledge. One of them which is circulating throughout the internet is that people can’t open the windows in their passive houses. This is certainly not true because the ventilation system and the heat recovery systems work very well in passive houses, so the heat losses are minimal. The reason on why we should focus on a passive house is easy if we consider the current energy situation in the world.

For example, the average annual energy consumption per square meter in old houses in Estonia is 200 kWh/m2a. This value is around 130 kWh/m2a in new buildings, and this is only 15 kWh/m2a in a passive house.

Designing a passive house, using the passive house elements, such as triple-pane windows with krypton as gas with insulated frames, and double-sized insulation materials makes a passive house more expensive than a regular house, but the cumulative cost of any annual expenses makes it more feasible in the long-term.

To educate the architects and the civil engineers in Estonia on the tips and tricks and details of planning a passive house and using the PHPP, Passive house OÜ, Tartu University spin-off, organized a seminar with the Passive House institute in Germany, named „Certified Passive House Designer Course“ in Tallinn on May 10-21. The participants were mainly estonian, but there were also participants from Latvia and Lithuania.

The course was composed of the essential parts for planning a passive house :

–          The building envelope (insulation materials, thermal bridges, airtightness)

–          Windows

–          Ventilation and heat recovery

–          Auxilary heat supply

–          Phpp package

–          Economic feasibility of passive houses

–          Quality assurance

It is stated several times during the seminar, especially by Prof.Dipl.Ing.Arch Helmut Krapmeier that Passive House will be the building code in 2013 in European Union and will be effective by 2015.

The course was followed by an examination for acquiring the title „Certified Passive House Designer&Consultant“ on June 26 done by the Passive House institute.

Some images to illustrate what was being said

Links :

http://www.passiivmaja.ee/index.php?id=33

http://www.tuit.ut.ee/eetl

http://www.passiv.de/07_eng/index_e.html

http://passipedia.passiv.de/passipedia_en/

http://www.passivhaustagung.de/Passive_House_E/passivehouse.html

In passive house design and construction we have 2 main measurements.

First one is the differential pressure measurement (also called as the Blower-Door Test) (EVS-EN 13829:2001) (modified version of ISO 9972:1996, Determination of air permeability of buildings).

Differential pressure measurement is the measurement of the resulting air flow rates over a range of indoor-outdoor static pressure differences. It can be performed during the construction or after the construction has been done. However, performing the tests during the construction gives us more reliable results.

However, it’s better to use the fan pressurization method for diagnostic purposes and then measure the actual infiltration rate with tracer gas methods (a single tracer gas measurement will give limited information on the performance of ventilarion and infiltration of buildings)

The Equipments used :

–          air-moving equipment : used to induce a specific range of positive and negative pressure differences across the building envelope.

–          Pressure-measuring device : with an accuracy of ±2 Pa in the range of 0 to 60 Pa.

–          air flow rate measuring system : device to measure air flow rate within ± 7 % of the reading.

–          temperature measuring device : with an accuracy of  ± 1 K

The differential pressure measurement test result directly affects the specific annual heat demand, thus influencing the combined uncertainty for the specific annual heat demand. (The aim of my master’s thesis is to be able to add a worksheet into PHPP, where we can calculate all the uncertainties,thus the Passive House institute can put this uncertainty value into their certificates, both for the passive house components, and to passive houses)

The second measurement is the thermographic Analysis (currently ThermaCAM B4 infrared camera is in use by Passive House OÜ, calibrated by  FLIR Systems AB, Sweden). As the differential pressure tests, the thermography can be performed during and after the construction. However, it is mostly used when inspecting the building, to detect the possible leaks.

Thermography is not a decision point in building inspection. It just gives us an idea where we might have & have problems. These suspicions must be verified by other methods, such as moisture meters, humidity&temperature datalogging, tracer gas testing, etc.

A few illustrations on thermographic analysis in passive houses :

Sudan I dye in neat form (source: Wikipedia) Sudan dyes (most important of them are Sudan I, II, III and IV) are a family of compounds in the class of azo dyes that are used for different industrial and scientific applications (coloring of fuel, staining for microscopy, etc). Because of their low cost and wide availability, Sudan dyes are also attractive as food colorants. However, due to their carcinogenicity they are banned for food usage in most countries, including in the EU. Nevertheless, according to the European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed reports there have been a large number of cases where Sudan dyes have been found in food. This has forced the European Commission to adopt a decision on emergency measures against Sudan dyes in food and calling the member states to organize testing of food products on the market.
Although concentration of Sudan I in 100-1000 mg/kg range is required to impact the color of chili products, commonly reported levels of Sudan dyes are in the low mg/kg range. Hence, accurate analysis of low levels of Sudan dyes in food is of huge importance.
Recently a review paper A review of analytical techniques for determination of Sudan I-IV dyes in food matrixes (Journal of Chromatography A, 2010, 1217, 2747–2757) was published by authors from UT Chair of Analytical Chemistry. This paper critically reviews the published determination methods of Sudan I-IV dyes. LC-UV-Vis and LC-MS are the dominating methods for analysis of Sudan I-IV dyes. Sudan dyes are usually found in food at mg/kg levels at which it may be necessary to use a preconcentration step in order to attain the desired detection limits. Liquid-solid extraction is the dominating sample preparation procedure. In recent years it has been supplemented by ultrasonic-assisted extraction and pressurized liquid extraction. Various solid phase extraction types have been used for sample clean-up.
The large majority of works use conventional C18 columns and conventional LC eluents. Traditionally the UV-VIS absorbance detection has been the most frequently used. In the recent years MS detection is applied more and more often as it offers more reliable identification possibilities.
Full text of the review cannot be posted here due to copyright restrictions, but those interested to have it are welcome to contact Ivo Leito (see our Contact page).

Dana-Maria Bunaciu presenting her master's thesisMycotoxins are a class of food contaminants that are synthesized by certain species of fungi. Differently from, e.g. pesticides, mycotoxins are non-anthropogenic – they are not added to food by humans. However, correctness in handling and production of food can influence mycotoxin content significantly. Due to their high toxicity mycotoxins are among priority contaminants that are monitored in food. From measurement point of view they are problematic compounds to determine: (1) their levels in food are very low (in the ppb range); (2) they occur in foods with difficult-to handle matrix (Cereals, nuts, …) and (3) due to their chemical nature they are difficult to separate from the food matrix. The primary analytical tool used currently for mycotoxin determination is LC-MS (liquid chromatography mass spectrometry), most commonly with the electrospray (ESI) ion source.
A master’s thesis on mycotoxin determination in maize (corn) flour – Developing an HPLC-ESI-MS/MS method for simultaneous determination of mycotoxins in maize flour and other matrices – was defended on Jun 8 by AMS student Dana-Maria Bunaciu. The work was performed at the Tartu Laboratory of the Estonian Health board and the developed method will be put into routine use there in autumn 2010.

MSC LogoIn roughly one month – on Monday Jul 19 – the 2010 Summer School of the Measurement Science in Chemistry consortium will start. This is already the third of its kind and is this time organized by the Applied Measurement Science team of University of Tartu. The summer school will take place on the west coast of Estonia in Lepanina. We expect around 40 participants.

Gert Suurkuusk discussing with Assoc. Prof. Uno Mäeorg

Gert Suurkuusk discussing with Assoc. Prof. Uno Mäeorg

On Tuesday Jun 8 Gert Suurkuusk defended his master thesis on a very interesting topic: Determination of Cannabinoids by Gas Chromatography. The title of the thesis is Validation of the gas chromatographic method for THC, CBD and CBN determination. THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol – is the active substance of marijuana and is a carefully monitored substance. In Estonia as in most European Union countries it is legal to grow cannabis in which the THC concentration does not exceed 0.2%. This is the so-called agricultural cannabis, which is grown for its fibre, energy, seeds and oil. At the same time in illegal cannabis and its products the THC concentration reaches up to almost 30%. The analytical method developed by Gert is already in routine use at the Estonian Forensic Science Institute and within the accreditation scope of the institute.

Master's thesis successfully defended!Today all seven AMS master’s candidates successfullt defended their theses. Congratulations!

The PDF files of all the theses are available for download from here (See at the end of the list: Dana-Maria Bunaciu, Klodian Dhoska, Urmas Joost, Madis Juurma, Liina Kruus, Kerli Lauk and Gert Suurkuusk).
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UTSeven AMS students will defend their master’s theses on June 8, 2010. The topics of the theses range from high-accuracy metrology (Klodian Dhoska – Systematic effects in automated mass measurements) and thermal imagers (Madis Juurma – Effects of environmental conditions on perfomance of thermal imagers) to applications of analytical chemistry (Liina Kruus – Determination of Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus and Magnesium in Forages by Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry; Dana-Maria Bunaciu – Developing an HPLC-ESI-MS/MS method for simultaneous determination of mycotoxins in maize flour and other matrices). The PDF files of all the theses are available for download from here (seven last files).

Sensors and measurement uncertaintyMore and more measurements are made by means of different sensors. At the same time estimation of measurement uncertainty of measurement results (for characterizing their precision and bias – collectively termed as accuracy) is becoming increasingly important. Traditionally there has been no “single-point-reference” with information and guidance on uncertainty estimation for measurements with sensors. This situation has now changed as we have recently published a tutorial review article in journal SensorsMeasurement Uncertainty Estimation in Amperometric Sensors: A Tutorial Review” (Helm, I.; Jalukse, L.; Leito, I. Sensors 2010, 10, 4430-4455).

This tutorial focuses on measurement uncertainty evaluation in amperometric sensors (both for liquid and gas-phase measurements). The main uncertainty sources (both in terms of precision and bias) are reviewed and their contributions are discussed with relation to the principles of operation of the sensors, measurement conditions and properties of the measured samples. The discussion is illustrated by case studies (dissolved oxygen measurement) based on the two major approaches for uncertainty evaluation – the ISO GUM modeling approach and the Nordtest approach. This tutorial is expected to be of interest to workers in different fields of science who use measurements with amperometric sensors and need to evaluate the uncertainty of the obtained results but are new to the concept of measurement uncertainty. The tutorial is also expected to be educative in order to make measurement results more accurate.

Since Sensors is an open-access journal, this article is available to everyone free of charge.

Smith TestDate rape drug refers to a drug that can be used to assist in the commission of a sexual assault, such as date rape (Wikipedia). detection of traces of date rape drugs in drinks is very important in criminalistics and forensic analysis. One of the most common such drugs is GHB – gamma-Hydroxybutyrate. The classical test for detecting GHB is Smith’s test. This test is known for long time, but publicly available information on its chemistry and application scope (meaning: in which drinks can GHB be detected) is surprisingly scarce. Master’s student Gea Ovsjannikov has taken this test under close scrutiny. She has established the criteria of applicability and has validated the test for a large number of different drinks. Based on the results of her work she will defend her master’s thesis on June 2.

Pigment identification by ATR-FT-IROn May 3, 2010 Signe Vahur from chair of analytical chemistry defended her doctoral thesis “Expanding the possibilities of ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy in determination of inorganic pigments”.

ATR-FT-IR has been used by conservation scientists for a long time. This technique enables to identify the binder materials and fillers. At the same time its usefulness in identification of pigments – a most important component of a painting – has been limited because the mid-IR (4000–400 cm–1) region of the IR spectrum of many of them is not characteristic enough and also there are many pigments that either do not absorb in that region at all (oxides, sulphides, etc) or have absorptions that are at the low wavenumber end of that region and are not characteristic enough for pigment identification.

At the same many pigments absorb IR radiation in the far-IR region (below 500 cm–1).

Signe developed a method how to use the low wavenumber region (550-230 cm-1) for identification of pigments and demonstrated that with this advancement ATR-FT-IR spoectroscopy firmly established as a pigment analysis technique.

The work provides a comprehensive overview of the inorganic pigment identification possibilities using ATR-FT-IR as well as a collection of reference spectra in the low wavenumber range (550-230 cm-1) and is expected to be a useful reference material for conservation practitioners and material scientists. The usefulness of ATR-FT-IR in the region of 550-230 cm-1 for identification of inorganic pigments is demonstrated by 5 case studies on art objects (several of them are important in Estonian history).

Full text of the thsis is available via the electronic storage of the UT library: “Expanding the possibilities of ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy in determination of inorganic pigments”.

Last Friday we finalized the submission of the proposal for obtaining the prestigious Erasmus Mundus label for our programme. The proposal was submitted as a collaborative effort (which is the essence or Erasmus Mundus) of University of Tartu, Uppsala University, University of Oulu and technical University of Denmark. It is expected that there will be many good proposals and that the competition between them will be very strong. Let us cross our fingers!

Every now and then measurements or chemical analyses show up in the awarded Nobel prize descriptions.

I recently came across the Nobel lecture of John B. Fenn, the inventor (together with Koichi Tanaka) of the ESI ionization method for mass spectrometry. ESI ionization allows obtaining mass spectra of very large and delicate molecules without breaking them. This ionization method is used in more than three fourths of all mass-spectrometric measurements made today. For this invention Fenn and Tanaka were awarded the 2002 Nobel prize in chemistry.

The Nobel lecture of John B. Fenn is a very good overview of the topic from history perspective. Can be recommended to everyone involved in ESI-MS.

Student Days Boat Rally

In one week time the Student Days in Tartu will start. Every year before the beginning of exam session in the middle of spring Student Days are held. On 26th of April at 6 o’clock the program starts with awakening in all dormitories of Uniersity of Tartu. In the evening of 26th on of the most popular events – Öölaulupidu – a night song festival where all the students come together and sing (national) songs. At midnight fireworks celebrate the culmination of the song festival.

Through the week different events are held including blood donation day, bear box climbing, students’ band competition, painting of t-shirts based on chromatographic methods, self-made vehicle competition BAMBUS and many more.

The culmination of the students days is the boat rally on Emajõgi on 2nd of May at 16:00.

Besides the well-established LoD and LoQ as measures of detection ability of a procedure, laboratories are increasingly often required to establish also the decision threshold (CCalpha) and detection capability (CCbeta) for their procedures. There is still quite some confusion how that should be done. I post here a short slideshow explaining the logic of calculating these quantities: CC_alpha_CC_beta.ppt

All questions and comments are welcome!

AMS Student Martynas Pelakauskas participates in the EstCube satellite project. His task is to design and check the power supply electronics.

ESTCube-1, the first Estonian student satellite (www.estcube.eu), is a student project which is aiming to create, build and launch a CubeSat specification satellite. The satellite’s primary mission will be to test the concept of the electric solar sail (www.electric-sailing.com) in space for the first time.

The novel electric propulsion technology based on the interaction of charged particles with a microscopic tether will be tested together with partners from the Finnish Metrological Institute (FMI), Jyväskylä University and Helsinki University (all from Finland), and the German Space Agency (DLR).

The launch of ESTCube-1 is scheduled in 2011. Currently the project is in the late stages of Phase B – first prototypes and work results of all the subsystems are nearing completion. The main subsystems of the satellite include the Electrical Power System (EPS), the Command and Data Handling System (CDHS), the Communications System (COM), the Attitude Determination and
Control System (ADCS), the Payload (PL) and the Structure (STR).

If successful, the project will confirm the concept of the electric solar sail, thus taking the first step towards a new spacecraft propulsion technology.

Pesticides in clementines in a supermarket

Pesticides in clementines in a supermarket

There is a very good online database of pesticides hosted by the EU Community Reference Laboratories for Residues of Pesticides available at http://www.crl-pesticides-datapool.eu/

It is free and the data are indeed serious and useful. For example, data on behavior of the pesticides related to typical analytical techniques are given, such as ionization and fragmentation data in different mass spectrometry ion sources.

VIM

Posted by Ivo Leito

Measurement science (metrology) is a lucky area in the sense that there a very good and authoritative “single-point-of-reference” terminology vocabulary available: the VIM (Vocabulaire international de métrologie, International Vocabulary of Metrology). The current edition – third edition – of VIM is available for download at http://www.bipm.org/en/publications/guides/vim.html

This edition of VIM was published in 2008 and it took took more than three years to complete because it was necessary to reach numerous compromises between experts from different measurement fields. Originally the same terms were used in different fields with different meanings. Avoiding this is one of the main ideas of VIM. The result was worth of the effort and the unification of terminology is is one of the most important merits of VIM. So, whenever writing something related to measurements it is a good idea to check the terminology proposed in VIM and use it.

This edition of VIM for the first time includes also some terms relevant to anlytical chemistry. Nevertheless, their number is still quite small.

Spring seminar of Applied Measurement Science

On Saturday 20th March this semester’s Applied Measurement Science seminar was held in Chemicum. Almost all of the students – both first and second year – were participating and making presentations about their research. The projects range from students’ satellite project to THC analysis in cannabis (THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – is the active narcotic substance of cannabis). Other topics include: energy-efficient construction (the so-called passive house), calibration of thermal imagers, Determination of nutrition-related  elements (P, ca, K, Mg) in forages, outlier elimination in interlaboratory comparison measurements, etc.

Did you know that time measurement accuracy of roughly 10 nanoseconds – that is 0.00000001 seconds (!) – is required for accurate positioning provided by GPS devices? Amazing!

This time measurement uncertainty leads to the positional uncertainty contribution of ca 3 m.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gps

Safety and quality of drinking water are among the important responsibilities of analytical chemists and measurement scientists. Toxic elements, such as lead, cadmium, selenium, etc are an important health risk if found in water and their content has to be constantly monitored.

This video of an internationally known expert – Dr. Marc Edwards of Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech – gives a very good overview of the whole issue, including the measurement-related problems:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3CawkKdAP4

Measurements must be considered in the broadest sense and have very many applications:

  • toxic metals in drinking water;
  • cholesterol level in blood;
  • strength of construction materials;
  • protein content in wheat;
  • octane number of gasoline

Importance of measurements is enormous for economy, society, medical sciences and much more:

  • 40% of the EU directives involve measurements
  • Critical economical, social, medical decisions are based on results of measurements
  • Estimated direct annual spending on measurements alone is 80 billion EUR or 1% of the GDP in Europe
  • Wrong measurements can have major consequences: direct (loss of profit, death of patient, failure of equipment, etc.) and indirect (incorrect environment protection measures, inefficient business plans, etc).

Here is only one of many practical examples: BSE (mad cow disease)

  • Constant monitoring is necessary: it is critical to test and isolate BSE-positive animals
  • 170 000 BSE tests per week! are done around Europe for monitoring the disease

The key to business success, healthier foods, cleaner and better environment, more reliable medicines is in having educated workers and managers in laboratories.
This Master’s programme does. Enroll now!

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