Impacts of Applications of Chemistry on Society and the Environment

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Impacts of Applications of Chemistry on Society and the Environment -------------------------------------------------
Open Ended Investigation
Madeline De-Sanctis

INTRODUCTION

From the earliest times, Chemistry has played a pivotal role in the advancement and enrichment of civilization, although sometimes it has also caused harmful and occasional long-reaching catastrophic effects on the environment. The importance of this sphere of science can be demonstrated by the fact that entire periods in history were named the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, according to the level of chemical endeavor of that time. The content in this report will comment on the various implications of science on society and the environment, such as the use of CFCs, the use of soaps and detergents, shrinking world resources, eutrophication, heavy metal pollution and poisoning, and the role of chemists. The information in this report was obtained from a wide variety of resources, as in the bibliography, which have each been assessed for their reliability and validity.

1. CHEMISTS

In todays environment scientists can choose to specialise in numerous fields of chemistry. There are various reasons for this, including the advancement of scientific knowledge of the earth that allows scientists to research things that have never been researched in previous times. There are three broad areas in which chemists work: teaching, industry and research. Within these areas are various divisions of chemistry, each which have separate facets of their own. The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) states that there are thirteen divisions of membership, some of which include analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry and electrochemistry.

Collaboration is very important in the field of chemistry. The fact that chemistry has many branches means that chemists will have expertise in different areas. A chemist cannot perform in isolation, simply because they are not able to be an expert in every field of chemistry. It is essential that chemists work collaboratively and communicate regularly with each other, exchanging different viewpoints about problems.

Forensic Chemistry
Forensic Chemistry is the application of chemistry to the investigation of a crime. Forensic chemists analyse evidence that is brought in from crime scenes and reaches conclusions based on the processing of that piece of evidence. A forensic chemist does not individually seek to solve a crime, yet seeks to identify and characterise the evidence that will in the long run be critical to solve a crime. Crimes investigated by a forensic chemist may be crimes against an individual or against society.

A forensic chemist usually works in a laboratory, and will often work with extremely small quantities of material, such as hair samples and swabs of blood. A major part of a forensic chemist’s skill is the ability to use techniques of separation and analysis used in analytical chemistry. Forensic chemists apply separation and analytical techniques by using various methods of extracting evidence, for example chromatography and electrophoresis.

A chemical procedure used by forensic chemists is chromatography. Chromatography is a means of separating the components of a chemical mixture. The theory of chromatography has as its basis on the chemical principle that chemical substances have a tendency to partially escape into the surrounding environment when dissolved in a liquid or when absorbed on a sold surface. The three different types of chromatography commonly used in the laboratory include: Gas Chromatography (GC), High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC).

Forensic scientists are extremely beneficial to society as they help to solve crimes and in turn make society safer. Forensic chemists can be classified into several subgroups, such as forensic pharmacists (who study medicinal drugs)...
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