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pH & Its Effect on Human Health & the Environment

Dr. John N. Driscoll PID Analyzers, LLC, Sandwich, MA NESACS Chairman of Subcommittee on Public Relations NCW Chemistry Connections Workshop 10/24/2011

Why do students go into chemistry?

A small sample from the 15 volunteers at the NESACS-MOS event on Oct. 23, 2011 12 students had a very good HS chemistry teacher (75%) 2 had family member in chemistry 1 was a biology major that had a very good freshman chemistry teacher 1st semester in college

Fear, Beer and Science: Cape Cod Science Cafe

Excerpts from the article by Sean Gonsalves, CCT, p3, October 20, 2011 I don't remember a thing from high school chemistry not even my teacher's name. Of course, there's nothing unique about the bad experience I had with chemistry. One of my favorite popular science writers, Natalie Angier, describes chemistry as "the subject that at least 6 out of every 6.0225 (99.6%) Americans insist they 'flunked in high school.' People rant against all the 'chemicals' in the environment, as though the word were synonymous with 'poisons.'"It's precisely this kind of chemical fear and loathing that Jennifer Maclachlan and her father, Jack Driscoll, want to dilute. But to do any of this cool, creative, fun stuff, you have to first know a little something about chemistry. To help promote the contributions of chemistry, and increase the public's knowledge of the field and the importance of science education, the American Chemical Society launched "International Year of Chemistry 2011." A Bunsen burner was lit under Maclachlan. She ran with the idea and organized a series of "Cape Cod Science Cafs." The third-quarter focus, which we're in right now, is recycling. And what better way to engage the public on the chemistry of recycling than with libations and a science caf on Sustainability, Chemistry and the Art of Craft Beer hosted at Cape Cod Beer on Oct. 21, 2011 as part of NCW. But there's a far more practical reason for chemistry. "With all these manufacturing jobs going overseas, the area where we need to be in the future is technology development," Driscoll said. "That's what is going to give us the edge. Chemistry is a very important part of it. Unfortunately, many kids get lost in the fifth or sixth grade (or earlier) on science and math. We've got to change that."

What is pH?
pH is the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution

Another version of the pH scale

A third way to visualize the pH scale

Development of pH
1 st pH meter was developed in the 1930s by Arnold Beckman to measure lemon juice Build your own simple pH meter http://www.66pacific.com/ph/simplest_


Glass electrode reported) by Ostwald and van 't Hoff in-J Phys. Chem. (1909

How do pH electrodes work?

Type: pH glass probe Reference electrode (Ag/AgCl) Measure difference in potential between a reference electrode (Ag/AgCl) & a pH probe The potential difference (f) concentration is given by the Nernst Equation E = Eo - RT/nF Log A RT/nF= slope monovalent = 59mV/decade; divalent = 28.5 mV/decade Each integer (pH 7/0, pH 8/0) change represents a 10fold change in the acidity/basicity of the water (logarithmic)

Schematic of pH system

What is attractive about pH measurements?

One of the most common tests for water quality Low cost equipment Many simple experiments can be performed by students Easily adaptable for field measurements with a minimum of equipment Low level of skill required for direct measurements

Do I need to calibrate?
Yes The reason is that the glass electrode does not give a reproducible potential over long periods of time How do I calibrate? With pH buffers that cover the range of pH measurement ie pH 4.0 & 10.0 The electrode slope should be about 55 nM/decade or 6 x 55 = 330 mV for the range

If pH electrodes are not available what else can I use? pH paper or Indicators like brom thymol blue or m cresol purple below:

pH & Health

pH & CO2 in blood are two of the pH related critical measurements that determine your health Buffer systems are critical to maintaining your bodys health. The carbonic acid/bicarbonate equilbrium is the most important buffer for maintaining the acid/base balance in the blood. The simultaneous equilibrium reactions are:

Effect of Change in pH in the Body

Normal pH (NA) = 7.35 +/- 0.1 What controls cell processes? The answer is pH. All metabolic processes, including immunity, depend on a delicately balanced pH. Over acidity, can become a dangerous condition that weakens all body systems. It can give rise to disease. A healthy body maintains adequate alkaline reserves to meet emergency demands. When excess acids (acidosis) must be neutralized, our alkaline reserves are depleted, leaving the body in a weakened condition.

pH & Food

Acid-Forming Food High protein foods (such as meat, fish, poultry and eggs) carbohydrates (including grains, breads and pastas) fats Alkaline-Forming Food Fruits and vegetables Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, contain organic acids, they are not acid-forming when metabolized Free Form Amino Acids are not acid-forming, but instead offer unique buffering capabilities to help offset acidic wastes.

pH & Water (Environment)

The pH of water determines the soluability and biological availability of chemical constituents such as nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) and heavy metals (lead, copper, cadmium, etc.). For example, in addition to affecting how much and what form of phosphorus is most abundant in the water, pH also determines whether aquatic life can use it. In the case of heavy metals, the degree to which they are soluble determines their toxicity. Metals tend to be more toxic at lower pH because they are more soluble. Some old water delivery systems may still have lead pipes

pH of Precipitation in US (USGS)

Global Water Experiment

Students from around the world are joining in as part of IYC US is way behind in reported measurements Are you interested in working with us as part of IYC? Need results before Dec. 31, 2011

IYC & Global Water Experiment

Samples to Analyze for Global Water Experiment

A- Centerville River (tidal river) B- Centerville Harbor C- South River Reservoir (Duxbury) D-Centerville tap water E- Lake Elizabeth (Craigville) F- bottled water

Data from Chemistry Connections Workshop The workshop was conducted at Burlington High School for regional High School Teachers Samples were collected and measured with pH testers from Hanna Instruments The Global Water Experiment data are in the following slide


pH is an interesting subject to study. It can include the following: Equilbrium+ weak acids, weak bases, buffers Electrochemical cells Math- logarithms, exponential functions Relation of pH to the human body & food Laboratory experiments-bring in water samples Build your own pH meter Global Water Experiment participate before Dec. 31, 2011 Of course, HS Science Teachers are a key to the development of new scientific personnel who are necessary for maintaining the US excellence in technology development

What can you do to interest students in science?

Make sure that students arent falling behind on math Find additional interesting topics for the students Talk about future careers Work with students who like science Suggestions from the audience??