International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Schoolchildren Test Local Water

June 28, 2011

On Wednesday 22 June, a London MP observed closely when pupils tested, in the House of Commons, the pH of the capital’s water.

Brian Emsley, RSC Media Relations Manager reports.

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, hosted youngsters from his constituency taking part in the world’s largest-ever chemistry experiment.

Before joining Mr Barwell at Portcullis House overlooking the Thames, the group took water samples from near Buckingham Palace and the Thames.

A couple of days prior the event, Mr Barwell said: “I am really looking forward to welcoming young people from my constituency to the House of Commons and joining them in taking part in the world’s largest chemistry experiment. It is so important for children of all ages to take part in hands-on science lessons and I am hugely grateful to the Royal Society of Chemistry for organising the event.”

Many UK schools participate in this, the world’s biggest-ever chemistry experiment, which will be the largest single collection of data on water quality ever undertaken at one time and will be achieved by hundreds of thousands of youngsters around the globe becoming scientists for a day.

Schoolchildren will visit local rivers, lakes and waterways to check acidity and their results will later form part of a highly-valuable report on the quality of the world’s water.

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water exp in London3

The Global Water Experiment is a centrepiece of the International Year of Chemistry 2011.

By conducting the pH tests, students will contribute to an online global ‘map’ of water quality and treatment. The tests for pH levels are very important because most aquatic animals and plants have adapted to life in water with a specific pH and may suffer from even a slight change. Even moderately acidic water (low pH) may reduce the hatching success of fish eggs, irritate fish and aquatic insect gills, and damage membranes. Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to low pH, likely because their skin is so sensitive to pollutants. Some scientists believe the recent drop in amphibian numbers around the world is due to low pH levels caused by acid rain. Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and chromium dissolve more easily in more acidic water (lower pH). This is important because many heavy metals also become much more toxic when dissolved in water and this is a part serious problem in certain regions of the world.

Learn more – see RSC release

Link to UK Global Experiment portal

Listen “BBC Science in Action”, June 23rd program