Overcoming Environmental Challenges with Analytical Chemistry

The environment is a topic that poses many challenges to science and society today. A complex system of natural forces, the environment is heavily impacted by human activity. Often, environmental concerns arise from human actions such as pollution or fracking.

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Human innovation, especially in the field of analytical chemistry, can also provide solutions to environmental challenges, preserving both the world around us and protecting populations against adverse consequences to human health.

Pittcon this year will delve into the usefulness of analytical chemistry in solving environmental and human health concerns. With an array of researchers, health policy experts, and industry professionals, Pittcon will address the underlying scientific principles of climate change that affect every person every day, especially during a global pandemic where health is at the forefront of research efforts and media attention.

Innovative Technologies to Tackle Environmental Pollution

Some of the most prevalent environmental issues come in the form of pollution. Pollution can permeate all aspects of the environment, from air to water to soil. Pollution is caused when toxic elements are released into the environment and have an adverse effect on the systems present. Human activities like fracking are damaging to nature and contribute to multiple forms of pollution.

Specific analytical chemistry techniques are being employed to deal with soil and water pollution, as highlighted at this year’s presentations at Pittcon. For example, MALDI, mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography can be used to perform soil chemical analysis. Furthermore, gas analysis can provide answers about a soil composition’s TOC, or total organic carbon that is stored in the earth, which is useful in determining how much CO2 is present. CO2 is a large focal point as a primary greenhouse gas that traps heat and warms temperatures around the world. Various technology companies have developed advanced machinery to conduct such analytical studies.

Furthermore, water pollution will also be addressed. Water pollution is a major point of concern and priority for environmental scientists as it is an invaluable resource that life depends on. The intersection of science and health policy will be examined through the lens of drinking water and other regulations by the FDA and EPA. The issue of mercury and microplastics contamination is being addressed through novel analysis methods with analyzers and IR spectroscopy, another example of the application of analytical chemistry. Major laboratory technology companies have combined the strengths of multiple analytical chemistry technologies like electron ionization and GC-MS to ensure the regulations for safe drinking water are upheld as well as better inform these policies.

Addressing the Impact of Contaminants and Climate Change on Human Health

It is clear that humans are exposed to contaminants every day from a variety of objects that we depend on. In particular, this Pittcon will cover PFAs, or per and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, that are often found in plastics and food packaging as well as cleaning supplies. Investigations into effective food matrices for analytical studies as well as case studies of Minnesota will be presented.

University research labs and government agencies like the FDA will present the efforts to minimize the damage of PFAs in the environment and on human health. Pittcon will emphasize the collaboration between various stakeholders in environmental science as analytical research informs policy and policy can inspire research.

This Pittcon will feature a symposium about climate change, a very large topic in studies of the environment. This is because climate change affects all facets of the environment, from weather and water to air chemistry and infectious disease. The focal point of the climate change presentations will be human health. Public health systems are heavily intertwined with climate because climate change influences food systems, water resources, and other infrastructures. Even the pharmaceutical industry will be explored as research on CO2 impacts on medicinal plants is presented.

Analytical chemistry is providing solutions for environmental research to deal with these challenges. By enabling experts to better perform analysis on air, water, and food samples, analytical chemistry techniques can improve the current effects of pollution, contaminants, and climate change as well as inform infrastructure and policy to best deal with environmental impacts. This complex network brings forward the interdependence humans have with the environment and how significant it is to study it.

More about Pittcon

All these topics and more will be covered at Pittcon this year. A range of talks, presentations, symposiums, posters, and lectures will provide further insight into the efforts to combat contaminants, address air and water pollution, and understand climate change impacts on human health. By opening up the opportunity for collaboration and information exchange, Pittcon is needed now more than ever. Pittcon is the leader in analytical chemistry conferences and will bring together innovative developments from a variety of minds to contribute to the wider wellbeing of both the planet and the people who live on it.

About Pittcon

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Pittcon® is a registered trademark of The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. Co-sponsored by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Pittcon is the premier annual conference and exposition on laboratory science.

Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult. Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums.

Visit pittcon.org for more information.

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