Decades of Dioxin Limelight on a Molecule

ISBN-10: 140106907X
ISBN-13: 9781401069070
Edition: 2002
List price: $22.99 Buy it from $4.11
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Description: By 1971 analytical scientists at Dow had good reason to believe that questions about "dioxin" (2,3,7,8-dibenzo-p-dioxin) had been appropriately addressed. This molecule had been identified as an unwanted trace contaminant in 2,4,5-trichlorophenol  More...

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Book details

List price: $22.99
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation LLC
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 345
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

By 1971 analytical scientists at Dow had good reason to believe that questions about "dioxin" (2,3,7,8-dibenzo-p-dioxin) had been appropriately addressed. This molecule had been identified as an unwanted trace contaminant in 2,4,5-trichlorophenol and its derivatives; synthesized and analytical standards prepared; characterized by all the known measurement techniques; and controlled in Dow products by newly developed analytical methods of confirmed integrity at levels 10 times lower than deemed necessary by Dow toxicologists. Thus we had not only fulfilled all the requirements of government agencies, we had gone the extra mile. No other product contaminant had been treated so rigorously. There was no doubt that Dow products were safe when used as directed. Once again we had proven that molecules could be successfully managed. Although there was already some noise decrying this conclusion, we were totally unprepared to weather the brouhaha which developed. "Dioxin" appeared to be a molecule that created fear and caused people to do strange (unscientific) things. Was it more than just a molecule?We now turned our attention to measuring the amount of "dioxin" in the environment. We were well prepared to develop methodology to do this. We had state-of-the-art equipment and some of the best chromatographers and mass spectroscopists in the world. We were confident we could find and measure "dioxin" (if present) in any matrix of interest at appropriate detection levels. Then we could determine how the dioxin got there and discover ways to completely control and manage the presence and movement of this molecule in the environment. This was our perception!This perception was reinforced by the merger of Dow analytical laboratories. For the first time powerful measurement tools would be under the same management as the separation systems. This created many opportunities for spectroscopists, chromatographers and instrument development folks to do extraordinary things together. The resulting laboratory, consisting of almost 200 technical people, was managed by a technical director and a technical manager. I was named technical manager, a position without a job description. We were not, however, positioned to communicate effectively with the world outside Dow. Those of us working in trace analysis had neither published much nor attended many scientific meetings outside the company. We had not honed either our writing or speaking skills. So our papers were rejected and we were seldom heard speaking. This took some years to correct as we didn't immediately recognize that we needed to have credibility with our peers in academia, government and other industry. In spite of this naivety on my part, I soon found myself serving on committees, task forces and study groups both within Dow and with government agencies in the United States and Canada.Immediately it became apparent to me that the integrity of analytical data at trace levels was a major problem. Different laboratories used different principles in the interpretation of signals. Consensus on data interpretation needed to be reached. But of even greater importance was the need to communicate with journalists.Each encounter with peers and others interested in "dioxin" became a great adventure filled with fun. Often these meetings were humorous, always challenging, sometimes testy scientists from industry always were portrayed as biased and even incompetent. So, "dioxin" appeared to cause people to do strange things. By means of anecdotal stories and essays this book attempts to convey the principal scientific and philosophical lessons learned, as well as reveal the astonishing behavior of those contributing to the frustration, agony and elation experienced by this industrial analytical chemist.Among the surprising lessons learned are:1. Fear can create big business.2. In a "crisis" situation, even

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