Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Science on the Street on the Cape or how my six year old and I bonded

I spent Saturday afternoon at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History participating in the Cambridge Science Festival, Science on the Street STEM outreach event. This was an event I had planned to attend with my family but instead we ended up as exhibitors, representing the American Chemical Society. My eight year old daughter enjoys the VIP experience of working at a science festivals for several reasons: getting there before the public is allowed to enter, as the kid of a volunteer she gets to check out and try all the cool activities before everyone else since the other exhibitors are eager to practice on a real kid before the rush and the best is of course having a place to come and rest between doing fun activities. 

Since both of my girls had planned to assist me at the ACS table, I told each of their teachers about it. The second grade teacher suggested I make a flyer that she would send home with the students in the class plugging the event with a call-out box stating that their classmate would be at the Chemistry Table and we hoped to see them there. As a result of the flyer, my six year old had one classmate attend and my eight year old had two classmates attend. My friend's mother who is a Naturalist and had business at the Museum in the morning stuck around to see us setup since her daughter saw on Facebook that we'd be there. She also noted with a wink that she already knew because she saw it on Twitter. Other friends of ours stopped by because they saw my Facebook posts about it. There was something really special to me and to my girls about seeing so many friends at this event in our community. Oftentimes when we are assisting at Local Section outreach events they are in Boston or Cambridge and have a sort of anonymity to them. 

A retired chemist ACS member appeared at my table. He was delighted to see ACS at the event and wondered if we were down the Cape or had come from Boston? I gave him all my contact information and told him about our NESACS Cape Cod Science Cafe events. I would have liked to have spoken to him longer but I had a table full of pint-sized chemists demanding my attention. 

First they were asked if they wanted to do some chemistry and then if they answered yes were instructed to wear goggles to protect their eyes since we were working with liquids. Then if they didn't know how to use an eyedropper (many didn't since most kids were between ages 3-7) they got to practice with it before squeezing drops onto the pH paper, matching the color change portion of the strip with the pH color number chart and then using a meter to compare the results. I was able to have five kids at a time conduct their experiments at my table with the help of my six year old who cleaned up between experiments, assisted children who needed it (even kids older than herself) and kept restocking the Kids Discover Chemistry Magazines

Of course I was met during the one brief lull with a concerned citizen who was inquiring as to whether or not it was *safe* to expose children to toxic chemicals. She gestured towards my red flask which was full of salt water from Barnstable Harbor. And then to the purple flask full of cabbage juice then to the green one with vinegar, well you get the picture. She wandered away from the table looking relieved. 

Before my six year old went to sleep that night she told me that today's festival was the best one we have ever done. It was her favorite. I told her it was my favorite too. Some serious mother-daughter bonding took place while working the chemistry table together. I'm glad we decided to volunteer instead of just attend. Sometimes it really pays to be a VIP. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sensitive photoionization (PID) method for the measurement of ppb levels of inorganic arsenic in well water

This research paper is part of the Arsenic Contamination in Food and Water symposium Agricultural & Food Chemistry Poster Session which precedes the two day oral symposium at #ACSNOLA.    

166 - Sensitive photoionization (PID) method for the measurement of ppb
 levels of inorganic arsenic in well water

Jack Driscoll1, Jennifer Maclachlan1Janet B. Foley2,
 Tim B Schroeder2(1) PID Analyzers, LLC, Sandwich, MA 02563, United States, 
(2) Bennington College, Bennington, VT 05210, United States

Bennington College is located in southwestern Vermont, an area that has recorded many
 bedrock wells with arsenic levels near and above the 10 ppb limit. We are interested in 
exploring the geochemical conditions and redox chemistry that contributes to the 
solubilization of As(III), the more toxic form of arsenic. We plan to set up some model 
systems in the lab as well as test conditions with samples of local bedrock. We would have 
chosen the older colorimetric method rather than the AA or ICP-MS because the cost of
 these types of spectrometers is outside our price range. We decided to try the hydride
 generation (HG)-PID method for arsenic in water analysis at ppb levels (1) because it is
 more sensitive and more accurate than the colorimetric method and the system cost is a
 fraction of the $200K spectrometer price. We will compare some of our HG-PID results 
with ICP-MS to confirm the accuracy of these tests.[ol][li]Driscoll, JN and GA Cutter, 
“Total and Speciated Arsenic Compounds in Water by Photoionization and Gas 
Link to product literature

Chromatography/PID”in "Toxic Trace Metal Remobilization & Remediation -
 A Geochemical Body of Work" to be published by the ACS (2012)[/li][/ol]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 02:00 PM
General Posters (02:00 PM - 04:00 PM)
Location: Morial Convention Center
Room: Hall D

Comparison of sensitive methods for the measurement of inorganic arsenic in apple juice: Photoionization (PID) and ICP-MS

This will be presented in the Analytical Methods subsection of the two day Arsenic Contamination in Food and Water Symposium at the American Chemical Society Spring National Meeting in New Orleans April 10 and April 11, 2013 on the AGFD Track. 
299 - Comparison of sensitive methods for the measurement of inorganic arsenic in apple juice: Photoionization (PID) and ICP-MS

Authors: Jack Driscoll1,  Jennifer Maclachlan1,  (1) PID Analyzers, LLC, Sandwich, MA 02563, United States
Link to product literature

In January of 2012, Consumer Reports found 10% of apple juice samples tested from five brands had total arsenic levels above the drinking water standard of 10 parts per billion. Most of that arsenic was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen. American apple juice is made from apple concentrate, a majority of which is imported from China. Inorganic Arsenic has been detected as AsH3following reduction via AA or ICP MS. The cost of these types of spectrometers is in the $60-200K price range. Many labs would have to choose the older colorimetric methods but we have developed and modified the hydride generation-PID method for arsenic in water analysis at ppb levels (1) to work with food and juice. The system cost is a fraction of the $200K spectrometer price. We will describe the modifications of the new method for arsenic in apple juice as well as the comparison results with ICP-MS. (1) Driscoll, JN and GA Cutter, “Total and Speciated Arsenic Compounds in Water by Photoionization and Gas Chromatography/PID”in "Toxic Trace Metal Remobilization & Remediation - A Geochemical Body of Work" to be published by the ACS (2013)                           

Thursday, April 11, 2013 08:35 AM

Arsenic Contamination of Food and Water (08:30 AM - 12:20 PM)
Location: DoubleTree by Hilton New Orleans
Room: Madewood B

See document below for complete listing of presenters at Arsenic Contamination in Food and Water at #ACSNOLA

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PID Analyzers at #Arablab 2013

Together with our friends at Hillsborough Scientific we will be exhibiting at Arablab 2013 in Dubai 10th-13th March. 
Team Hillsborough at Arablab 2011 Photo courtesy: M/s Hillsborough Group

The PID Analyzer products that will be displayed at Arablab Stand No: 816/916 are: Model 102+ portable hydrocarbon analyzer, customize with up to 3 additional sensors, Model 210 paramagnetic oxygen analyzer and Model114 IR-based analyzer for leak detection, environmental, area, or laboratory monitoring applications.

Here is a recent presentation that we did on our Model 102+, one of the featured portable analyzers which will be on display at Arablab and at the Quadrex Corp booth #1202 at Pittcon 2013 in Philly. 

An Air Analysis Method for Extremely Toxic Atmospheres


An Air Analysis Method for Extremely Toxic Atmospheres

An Air Analysis Method for Extremely Toxic Atmospheres
Topic 1:

Real-Time Detection Systems
Presentation Start:5/22/2013 11:30 AM
Presentation End:5/22/2013 12:00 PM
Author Block:J. Driscoll, PID Analyzers, LLC, Sandwich, MA; P. Smith, OSHA Labs, Salt Lake City, UT.
Presentation Number:SR-129-04

L to R: P. Smith and J. Driscoll working on GC Method Developemt


There is a need to know the exact composition of the air that workers will be breathing in confined space areas like coal mines. The conventional four gas analyzer does not have the accuracy, range or a sufficient number of sensors to assess extremely toxic atmospheres. Method Confined space atmospheres are typically measured using four gas meters for LEL, O2, CO, H2S. Confined spaces where unknown gases (other inert or toxic gases) may be present include tunnels, manholes, utility vaults, pumping stations, storage tanks, coal mines etc. 

While it is okay to know that an atmosphere is possibly deficient in O2, it is also important to know what other gases are present. A portable, gas chromatograph (GC) with a TCD can positively detect (with no interferences) O2, N2, CO, CO2, & CH4 with typical detection limits of 200 ppm and a dynamic range > 104. A second channel (parallel column) with a flame ionization detector can detect ppm levels of methane and C2 hydrocarbons that are present. Results We have been able to modify a portable GC so that we can have dual parallel columns that provide accurate and reproducible flows for either 2 packed columns or a packed and 30M capillary column. The TCD precision results were excellent as shown in Table I below: Table I Precision (10 results) N2 O2 H O2 L H2 H H2 L ppm CH4 ppm; Avg 80.07 20.78 1.13 4.46 4803 50.70; std dev 0.649 0.111 0.025 0.039 52.1 5.15; CV % 0.81 0.54 2.18 0.88 1.09 10.16 ;Conclusions We have combined a “fixed gas”-TCD column and packed column for C1 and C2 HC- FID . This latter configuration provides an accurate confined space and toxic gas analyzer for coal mines and other extremely toxic atmospheres.

Here are a few slides that will be presented on May 22, 2013 at #AIHCE in Real-Time Detection Systems:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday morning posters with coffee & networking #ACSNOLA

Join us for coffee and networking at the Sunday morning poster session at #ACSNOLA hosted by the American Chemical Society Division of Small Chemical Businesses at the Doubltree Hotel 300 Canal Street Room Crescent B 


How social media marketing influences sales at a small chemical business

This presentation has been accepted for the technical program of the 245th ACS National Meeting that will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 7-11, 2013.

PAPER ID: 20037
PAPER TITLE: “How social media marketing influences sales at a small chemical business”

DIVISION: SCHB: Division of Small Chemical Businesses
SESSION: SCHB Poster Session Sunday Morning April 7, 2013 

PID Analyzers, LLC launched their social media marketing plan in November of 2008 with a monthly E-Newsletter utilizing Constant ContactTM. One year later, in November 2009, aFacebook Business Page, the corporate blog “The Analyzer Source,” a LinkedIn page, and two Twitter accounts for owners Jack Driscoll (Twitter handle @pidguy) and Jennifer Maclachlan (Twitter handle @pidgirl) were established. We began to publish regular updates on LinkedIn while continuously building our own professional networks on LinkedIn. In the last year we addedGoogle+Pinterest, and Tumblr to our marketing efforts. We are reaching a unique audience with each social media platform and we offer value with each post; the result is that our following is increasing. How do we do this? We note what people "like,"retweet, or comment on and consistently make our next post not about our products, but about people, places, and things that interest us and make us more human and less corporate. This poster will explore how we have built relationships with customers and prospective customers via social media marketing and how it has translated to sales of our analyzers.

Wielding social media for effective science communication