Dangerous Cleaner Combinations

During this time of heightened awareness of disease transmission, many are finding themselves revisiting their cleaning and disinfecting procedures.  The internet and various organizations are full of advice as to what to use to clean and disinfect our persons, homes, businesses and laboratories.  While many products are often effective for use; they are not always particularly safe.  Strong volatile chemicals (such as acids, alcohols, ketones etc.) can produce noxious and irritating fumes or burns.  In some cases common household or laboratory cleaners and agents can become dangerous and lethal if combined.  Bleach or sodium hypochlorite solutions are very dangerous when mixed with most common chemicals.  Our infographic highlights some of the most dangerous combinations of household and laboratory cleaners.

Dangerous Cleaner Combinations-01

Women In Science – Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) shown in her laboratory in 1947.jpgBarbara McClintock, born on June 16th, 1902, was a scientist and cytogeneticist who made a number of groundbreaking discoveries in genetics. She demonstrated the phenomenon of chromosomal crossover, which increases genetic variation in species. She also discovered transposition, genes moving about within chromosomes and showed that genes are responsible for switching the physical traits of an organism on or off.

Barbara McClintock went to high school in Brooklyn, New York. Barbara’s mother was uncomfortable with sending her to college because she believed it would turn Barbara into an oddball that nobody would want to marry. Eventually, in September 1919, Barbara’s father overcame her mother’s objections and Barbara went to enroll at Cornell University immediately.

In 1921, she took her first genetics course. Her ability and understanding of the subject matter propelled her into graduate level classes while still an undergrad. Excited and fascinated with the genetics of plants, she finished undergrad with a degree in agriculture in 1923.

In 1925, McClintock went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. in botany at Cornell University. Her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees involved investigations of plant genetics. This would be the focus of her research for more or less the rest of her life.

McClintock’s cytogenetic research focused on developing ways to visualize and characterize maize chromosomes. This particular part of her work influenced a generation of students, as it was included in most textbooks. She also developed a technique using carmine staining to visualize maize chromosomes, and showed for the first-time morphology of the 10 maize chromosomes. By studying the morphology of the chromosomes, McClintock was able to link specific chromosome groups of traits that were inherited together.

In 1930, McClintock was the first person to describe the cross-shaped interaction of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. She developed improved staining techniques, which allowed her to see chromosomes under the microscope better than anyone else had before.

In 1941, McClintock became a visiting professor at Columbia University.

In 1944, she became the third woman ever to be elected to America’s National Academy of Sciences.

In 1971, McClintock was 81 years old and revived the National Medal of Science from President Richard Nixon. A large number of other awards and honorary degrees followed, culminating in the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for her discovery of mobile genetics. Her discoveries were rejected for years by other scientists, but eventually they realized she was right all along.



Women In Science – Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek at Spinning Elements by Harry Kalish.TIFStephanie Kwolek, born on July 31st, 1923, was an organic chemist, best known for inventing Kevlar in 1965. Kevlar is an immensely strong plastic, first used as a replacement for steel reinforcing strips in racing car tires, and now used in a large number of applications where high strength is required without high weight.

Age 23, Kwolek graduated with a degree in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University. She was quickly recruited to work as a chemist at Dupont Chemicals in Buffalo, NY. Four years later, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware where she spent the remainder of her career with DuPont.

After nine years of research work, Kwolek made her major breakthrough, discovering Kevlar. Her pathway to discovery began a year earlier, when she began looking for a new, lightweight plastic to be used in car tires. The idea was that lighter tires would allow vehicles to enjoy better fuel economy.

Not only did Kevlar find use in tires, its combination of lightness and strength has seen it used in a large variety of protective clothing applications, such as bulletproof vests, which have saved the lives of countless police officers and other people.

For her discovery, Kwolek was awarded the DuPoint company’s Laviosier Medal for outstanding technical achievement. As of August 2019, she was the only female employee to have received that honor. In 1995, she became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Kwolek won numerous awards for her work in polymer chemistry, including the National Medal of Technology, the IRI Achievement Award and the Perkin Medal.

In 1986, Kwolek retired as a research associate for DuPont. Toward the end of her life, she consulted for DuPont, served on both the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences. During her 40 years as a research scientist, she filed and received either 17 or 28 patents. Kwolek died at the age of 90 on June 18, 2014.



Tobacco & Humectant Standards

Tobacco in Bowl

Tobacco is the common name for a group of plants in either the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It is also the term for products produced from the cured leaves of the tobacco plant. There are more than seventy species of tobacco plants, but the most commonly used is N. tabacum. There are thousands of compounds found in tobacco but the most commonly associated compound is nicotine and other alkaloids. Nicotine is the most abundant of the volatile alkaloids in tobacco. There are myriad of effects which occur with the ingestion of nicotine which results from the compound’s ability to act as both a stimulant and depressant for the central and peripheral nervous systems. Nicotine causes a discharge of epinephrine which causes increase heart rate and blood pressure. Nicotine can stimulate the brain, increase breathing and constrict peripheral blood vessels.

In addition to nicotine, there are hundreds of other compounds and elements found in tobacco and tobacco smoke of interest to human health including heavy metals, toxic elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, and many others. SPEX CertiPrep can help laboratories with all of their tobacco analysis needs with our comprehensive list of tobacco constituent standards from inorganic elements to persistent pollutants.

Humectants are substances which are hygroscopic in nature used to keep things moist. They are used in tobacco products including cigarettes and vapes. They control moisture, cut tobacco filler and add flavor such as menthols and citrates. There is concern that these humectants also introduce potentially dangerous compounds and elements into the tobacco products. As humectants burn, they release toxic chemicals such as acrolein and formaldehyde. The humectants themselves can also be hazardous if consumed in significant quantities and must be monitored. SPEX CertiPrep is able to help laboratories monitor levels of humectants in their products with our catalog of humectant standards.

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Women In Science – Elizabeth A. Wood

Elizabeth-WoodElizabeth A. Wood, born on October 19th, 1912, was an American crystallographer and geologist who ran a research program which led to the development of new superconductors and lasers.

Born and raised in New York, New York, Elizabeth went to Barnard College for her undergraduate degree. She than moved on to Bryn Mawr College for her master’s degree and doctorate in geology.

In 1942, Elizabeth who developed an interest in crystallography, took a job in the Physical Research Department of Bell Telephone Laboratories, where she was their first woman scientist. For over two decades, she ran a crystallographic research program at Bell Labs, focusing primarily on the electromagnetic properties of crystals. She addressed such problems as growing single crystals that would have useful conductive, magnetic, or other properties; as well as investigating new crystalline materials with ferromagnetic or piezoelectric properties.

Wood also became known for her writing. She wrote books titled, Science for the Airplane Passenger and Crystals and Light, which served as beginner textbooks for the those with no background in optics. A version of this book was put out by Bell Labs for high school students as both a booklet and an experiment kit. Her Crystal Orientation Manual was a handbook for technicians on the proper preparation of crystals for research. As the title of her 1962 book Rewarding Careers for Women in Physics suggests, she championed efforts to bring more women into the sciences, speaking out on the issues involved such as cultural disapproval of professional women—at meetings and conferences.

Throughout her career, Wood undertook leadership roles in a number of professional organizations. One of her more prominent efforts was to participate in the founding of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) out of a merger between the American Society for X-Ray and Electron Diffraction (ASXRED) and the Crystallographic Society of America (CSA). In 1957, she became the ACA’s first woman president.

In 1997, the ACA established the E. A. Wood Science Writing Award to honor the authors of publications that do an exceptional job in writing about science for the general public. The award is presented every three years, and the first honoree was Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann. Wood died March, 23, 2006 of a stroke.


Women’s History Month – Rosalind Franklin

Image result for rosalind franklinRosalind Franklin, born on July 25th, 1920 was a chemist and X-Ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite.

Rosalind Franklin grew up in a well-known Jewish family in pre-World War II London, and was known in the family for being very clever and outspoken. Her parents sent her to St. Paul’s Girls’ School, a private school known for rigorous academics, including physics and chemistry.

Franklin graduated from Newnham College at Cambridge in 1938 and took a job with the British Coal Utilization Research Association. She was determined to make a contribution to the war effort, and published several papers on the structures and uses of coal and graphite. Her work was used in development of the gas masks that helped keep British soldiers safer. Her work earned her a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry awarded by Cambridge University in 1945.

In 1947, Franklin moved to Paris to take up a job at the Laboratoire Central working with Jacques Mering on perfecting the science of X-ray chromatography. However, in 1951, she reluctantly decided it was necessary to move back to London to advance her scientific career.

At King’s College in London, Franklin found she was expected to work with antiquated equipment in the basement of the building. She took charge of the lab with her customary efficiency, directing the graduate student, Raymond Gosling, in making needed refinements to the X-ray equipment. Around this time, Franklin and Gosling made a startling discovery. There were two forms of DNA shown in the X-ray images, a dry “A” form and a wetter “B” form. Because each X-ray chromatograph had to be exposed for over 100 hours to form an image, and the drier “A” form seemed likelier to produce images in more detail, Franklin set aside the “B” form to study later. She noted that the “B” form images appeared to show a definite helical structure and that there were two clear strands visible in the image she labeled Photo 51 before she filed it away.

In 1953, she decided to move to Birkbeck College to escape King’s due to strained relationships with colleagues. Somehow, during the move, Maurice Wilkins, a colleague came to be in possession of Franklin’s notes and the files containing Photo 51. Wilkins removed the photo from her records without her knowledge or permission and took it to show his friends at Cavendish. Photo 51 ended up being information needed to complete an accurate model of the structure of DNA.

Franklin, meanwhile, had moved on to Birkbeck. Part of the arrangement that allowed her to leave King’s was that she would not pursue any research on DNA, so she turned her talents to studying virus particles. Between 1953 and 1958, she made important discoveries about the tobacco mosaic virus and polio. The work done by Franklin and the other scientists at Birkbeck during this time laid the foundation of modern virology.

Franklin died on April 16, 1958, of ovarian cancer, possibly caused by her extensive exposure to radiation while doing X-ray crystallography work. Because the Nobel Prize can only be shared among three living scientists, Franklin’s work was barely mentioned when it was awarded to Watson, Crick and Wilkins in 1962. It is only in the past decade that Franklin’s contribution has been acknowledged and honored. Today there are many new facilities, scholarships and research grants especially those for women, being named in her honor.


Alcohol Standards

Alcoholic beverages are drinks that contain ethanol produced from the fermentation of grains or fruits. Alcoholic beverages include beers, meads, ciders, wines, and distilled spirits. All of these beverages contain thousands of compounds of interest from the common flavorants (see Flavor Standards on page 6), antioxidants, humectants (see Humectant Standards on page 5), to toxic elements and heavy metals. Alcoholic beverages do have some unique compounds which are often measured or monitored, including alcohol impurities, aldehydes, sulfur compounds, cork taint compounds, and other alcohol related targets.

SPEX CertiPrep has all of the standards the laboratory needs to detect and measure common alcohol compounds and elements.


Check out our new Alcohol and Tobacco Brochure

Contact is with any questions at CRMMarketing@spex.com or 732.549.7144