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Author: Subject: Chemistry Experimentation; The "Silent Killer" in China?
weiming1998
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[*] posted on 8-7-2012 at 00:54
Chemistry Experimentation; The "Silent Killer" in China?


Although my parents and I live in Western Australia, we originally came from China, and have a satellite dish on the top of our house to watch channels from there. Compared to Australia at least, chemophobia is generally a lot less severe in China, as you can buy lab equipment and chemicals freely from suppliers (All of my lab-ware are shipped from there). But chemophobia is starting to grow there as well.

A few days ago, my mum talked to me about doing experiments because of a Chinese TV show/documentary that she watched, which called chemistry experimentation in schools the "silent killer", said that chemicals are carcinogens and can cause poisoning in schools, and opted for schools to do less chemistry experiments. Of course I was not very happy about that, and talked with my mum about the issue (attacking the opinion that all chemicals are dangerous and carcinogens). I finally managed to convince my mum that careful experimentation isn't going to lead to cancers, poisoning and explosions.

Even so, I am still very concerned about the issues. There is no doubt that genuine amateur chemistry is going downhill and hardly anyone practice the hobby anymore, but school chemistry experimentations too? Some things are just learnt better hands-on than in theory, and the lessening of experimentation is going to turn chemistry into a classical "boring" subject like maths. Extremely paranoid moves like that will not lead to less cancers and poisonings, just a lack of people interested in chemistry in the future.

A final issue is the subject of chemophobia and that chemicals causes cancer. It seems to have catched on globally, and there is no escape to it. If we are already seeing things like that, what would it be like in the future? Billions of people ignorant of everything science living their highly repetitive, limited lives under the influence of the media telling them what to do, while the few powerful people and scientists controls the majority of the world and have all the knowledge of the technology that everyone else takes for granted? It is certainly a terrifying prospect.

Any thoughts?
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kavu
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[*] posted on 8-7-2012 at 01:39


More and more restrictions concerning chemistry experiments in schools have come about at least in Finland. If I'm not mistaken lead nitrate is now prohibited alongside with a few other useful chemicals. All of the banned chemicals can be handled safely and experiments with wow-factor tend to spark enthusiasm in students, it's a shame really.

I tend to ask people what they remember of school chemistry and physics. Everyone to date has answered "the experiments". At least they have some positive image about science! Three years worth of basic chemistry and physics is a far cry from developing a scientific world view, so I would emphasize on experiments even more.

Learning through experiments is actually quite a big deal in teaching today. For some reason it hasn't (yet) been applied very widely, though.

When it comes to maths, it can be made as interesting as any other subject. It's all about the teacher and his/her enthusiasm.

[Edited on 8-7-2012 by kavu]
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weiming1998
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[*] posted on 8-7-2012 at 03:24


Quote: Originally posted by kavu  
More and more restrictions concerning chemistry experiments in schools have come about at least in Finland. If I'm not mistaken lead nitrate is now prohibited alongside with a few other useful chemicals. All of the banned chemicals can be handled safely and experiments with wow-factor tend to spark enthusiasm in students, it's a shame really.

I tend to ask people what they remember of school chemistry and physics. Everyone to date has answered "the experiments". At least they have some positive image about science! Three years worth of basic chemistry and physics is a far cry from developing a scientific world view, so I would emphasize on experiments even more.

Learning through experiments is actually quite a big deal in teaching today. For some reason it hasn't (yet) been applied very widely, though.

When it comes to maths, it can be made as interesting as any other subject. It's all about the teacher and his/her enthusiasm.

[Edited on 8-7-2012 by kavu]


I know that maths can be very interesting, it is just stereotypically a boring subject. And if we keep up the banning, chemistry will be a stereotypically boring subject as well.

Anyway, from your personal experiences on asking people what they remember about physics and chemistry, experimentation is a vital part of learning. But now they want to reduce the amount of experimentation.
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SulfurApothecary
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[*] posted on 10-7-2012 at 20:21


It is a really scary thought, luckly I live in a place where the university supports me doing home chemistry... Boise...



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woelen
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[*] posted on 10-7-2012 at 23:22


In the Netherlands there also are a lot of restrictions on chemical experiments in high school. My daughter of 16 years old tells me that they hardly have any chemicals at high school. The only things she can use at school are things like 0.1 M HCl solution, precipitation with CaCl2 and Na2SO4, titration of a pH-indicator solution with 0.1 M NaOH and so on. No colorful chemistry with transition metals, because these are too toxic, no acids and bases at more than a few tenths of mole/liter concentration, because they are too corrosive and they have never seen any of the free halogens, nor elemental sulphur. She does not like the experimenting at school. The experiments are sooooo boooring....

For me, back in 1980 or so, things were totally different. My first demo at school was mixing KClO3 and S on a big pile and watching the fire and smoke when a drop of H2SO4 was added to it. This demo immediately sparked my interest in chemistry. We also make ICl3 from I2 and Cl2 and we did all kinds of colorful redox reactions (we were allowed to do these ourselves) such as making deep green solutions of Cr(3+)-complexes from orange solutions of K2Cr2O7 and a suitable reductor. We were told to be careful with these chemicals and we had to wash our hands very well after experiment classes, but at least we could do good and entertaining experiments.




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Wizzard
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[*] posted on 11-7-2012 at 06:09


"Causes Cancer" is a much better reason for not doing home chemistry than "Only terrorists do chemistry" like here in the good old US of A.
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[*] posted on 11-7-2012 at 06:30


What is even worse is that when I was in highschool (12-13 years ago) we did a lab where we made dichromate breathalyzers ourselves. Each student had a jar of potassium dichromate CRYSTALS *gasps* and not some solution do dilute it was practically colorless. Imagine today's version of that lab...
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weiming1998
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[*] posted on 11-7-2012 at 06:37


Quote: Originally posted by Wizzard  
"Causes Cancer" is a much better reason for not doing home chemistry than "Only terrorists do chemistry" like here in the good old US of A.


But frankly, still a crap reason.

Dissolving eggshells in vinegar aren't going to cause cancer or harm you in any sort of way, but messing with organolead compounds is going to have some long-term effects if you aren't really careful. What is reported on the TV is generalization, to think of all chemistry experiments and reactions are harmful and carcinogenic, when in reality, it depends on a whole variety of factors, the main factors being the reagents used/how careful you are.

Of course, some things are truly carcinogenic (benzene for example) and we can't dismiss them as harmless, but others aren't. A source that I found (http://potency.berkeley.edu/pdfs/Paustenbach.pdf)
claimed that a half of all the chemicals ever tested, natural or synthetic, has caused some mutations/cancer in rats and mice. But the problem is, the mice were exposed to near-toxic, enormous doses of the chemicals instead of the level humans are exposed to. The fact that the doses are so large by itself might mean that the test is a false alarm. In nature and in the environment, humans are also exposed to numerous known carcinogens (especially through smoking), and I doubt a responsible home lab/chemistry experiments will increase the probability of cancer to anywhere near, say the probability of cancer in a light smoker.
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[*] posted on 11-7-2012 at 11:10


Publications aimed at energetic chemistry have had past discussions on this subject. Decades ago many things were not known to be carcinogenic. What's more, in agendas such as pyrotechnic chemistry, the materials were manipulated with entertainment as a primary goal.
One of the conundrums of chemistry is that (as some other areas) it demands some study, individual responsibility, and maturity to reduce the potential dangers & heighten the learning process.
Individual responsibility is one of the hallmarks of maturity.




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[*] posted on 12-7-2012 at 06:23


Thinks fondly of my boyhood days of going to the local hobby store and seeing little bottles of real chemicals, as refills for chemistry sets.

Chromiums, cobalts, iodine, red phosphorus, etc etc.

Something to ponder, and I speak primarily of the USA in this, is that little more than 150 years ago, there was no DEA, no BATFE, no prescriptions, no limitations on what the individual could buy. You could go to a feed store and buy a case of dynamite. You could go to an apothecary and buy a liter of laudanum. You could mail order a handgun. Did we have a society chock full of armed, opium-addicted mad bombers? Of course not. If you hurt others, you paid the price. If you hurt yourself, it was your fault.

I am not a druggie, but it makes me wonder... the TRILLION$ spent on the ridiculous and failed "war on drugs", a generation incarcerated for marijuana, a sheep-like multitude baaahing "It's baaad for society. Think of the chiiildren!" with regards to chemicals.

Do I believe any idiot should be able to buy a pallet of ANFO or a brick of opium? No. But I wonder how and why it was OK, and seemed to work, in 1870.
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[*] posted on 12-7-2012 at 10:29


They want us to have no hobby at all, at least useful.

In the future, your only rights will be:

Work, buy, watch TV, work, buy, watch TV, ....... die stupid.

Everything else will be illegal.

You can't grow your own vegetables, you can't build your own motor, you can't do chemistry, because they own everything including you.
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[*] posted on 13-7-2012 at 08:43


I wouldn't get too concerned about what you see in Chinese TV. They have weird fads all the time. China has to be the most polluted industrial country in the world. The US exported all her manufacturing to China after passing labor and environmental laws the Chinese ignore. School chemistry experiments? How about breathing the air and drinking the water?

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[*] posted on 13-7-2012 at 10:53


If the cancer rates are rapidly going up in China, it is because of all the industrial pollution, not small-scale chemistry experimentation in the schools. Despite being very lax, China's pollution regulations are sparsely enforced and often ignored. In many areas it is probably not safe to drink the water or breathe the air.

[Edited on 13-7-2012 by AndersHoveland]
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chemrox
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[*] posted on 26-12-2013 at 16:47


Hear hear Anders! (good man)



"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
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[*] posted on 26-12-2013 at 20:54


Pay attention to the labels on your chemical bottles and you should be fine.



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learningChem
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[*] posted on 28-12-2013 at 17:54


The ignorance of all the idiots who are afraid of cancer is laughable. Problem is, the shitbags known as politicians cater to extactly that kind of idiot who is afraid of his own shadow.

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[*] posted on 29-12-2013 at 08:43


I guess I better stop going to doctor because he is actually giving me chemicals.
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[*] posted on 29-12-2013 at 13:59


Quote: Originally posted by Random  
I guess I better stop going to doctor because he is actually giving me chemicals.

People actually do that.
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Random
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[*] posted on 29-12-2013 at 16:58


Quote: Originally posted by Etaoin Shrdlu  
Quote: Originally posted by Random  
I guess I better stop going to doctor because he is actually giving me chemicals.

People actually do that.


Not a bad decision in some cases anyway.
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[*] posted on 29-12-2013 at 17:25


we are not allowed to handle nor use toluene in our school lab, makes me want to face-desk as i can go buy this any day
not to mention i was making a presentation on some organic molecules with tripple bonds, where i wanted to show the tripple bonds being strong enough to form carbon rather than CO2 (incomplete burn of C2H2) BUT.. APPARENTLY ACETYLENE IS FLAMMABLE
so that was not allowed
i often consider going home and getting some chemicals gathered then go back to school with my own chemicals.. lol, just to top it all off, out the door 5m across the hallway there is a metal workshop, and yes ofcourse they know enough about acetylene to store just below 1000 litres of the volatile substance (which can under special circumstances be detonated!)

ah.. too bad its flammable

instead i demonstrated what bonds strenght means with NI3 and gave half the class ringing ears, no problem in that, and blew hole in a metal plate to demonstrate its brisance, no problem at all.. because it is not flammable.

education sometimes..




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[*] posted on 22-2-2014 at 17:02


Its what gets me now a days.
There was a meme floating around that made reference to taking the warnings off everything and letting the stupid people find out the hard way. While I don't totally agree with this, to an extent there seems to be alot of people without common sense that jump straight into things when we live in an age where it takes a quick search on your phone even to find something out.
And it goes hand in hand with the 'cotton wool' generation term that is thrown around here in Australia where parents baby their children so much they dont experience anything. And like mentioned the experience from doing experiments is what gives the majority the spark to pursue science. In the minds of the general public they realise it's more than numbers and something physical.
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