Coffee Time Trivia (CTT)



Join us on Thursdays at 3pm in the Graduate Lounge (D211) for trivia fun!

See below for our previous questions and answers…

10 CTT questions a semester!


Jul 27, 2018

Our question was:

Which process for the extraction of caffeine does the Swiss Water process utilize for decaffeinating coffee?

A. Boiling
B. CO2 application under pressure
C. Sonication
D. Osmosis

Congrats to Yuanzhou from the Bertram group for winning the raffle.

This chemical-free water decaffeination process was pioneered in Switzerland in 1933. In 1988 the Swiss Water Method was introduced to the market with its facility based near Vancouver, British Columbia.

This particular method of decaffeination does not directly or indirectly add chemicals to extract the caffeine. Rather, it relies entirely on solubility and osmosis, to decaffeinate coffee beans. It begins by soaking a batch of beans in very hot water in order to dissolve the caffeine. The water is then drawn off and passed through an activated charcoal filter.

The porosity of this filter is sized to only capture larger caffeine molecules, while allowing smaller oil and flavor molecules to pass through it.Consequently, we end up with beans with no caffeine and no flavor in one tank, and caffeine-free “flavor charged” water (aka “Green Coffee Extract”) in another tank. The flavorless caffeine-free beans are discarded, but the flavor rich water is reused to remove the caffeine from a fresh batch of coffee beans. Since this water already is saturated with flavor ingredients the flavors in this fresh batch can’t dissolve; only caffeine moves from the coffee beans to the water. So, the result is decaffeination without a massive loss of flavor.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

Jul 19th, 2018

Our question was:

Which of the following harmful ingredients is NOT found in nail polish?

A. Toluene
B. TCS (Triclosan)
C. DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
D. Formaldehyde

Congrats to Hassan from the Mehrkhodavandi group for winning the raffle!

Toluene, DBP and formaldehyde have been called “the toxic trio” by some in the cosmetics industry. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is used in order to minimize chipping, however it has been banned in the European Union since the early 2000’s for being an endocrine disruptor. Toluene is the nail polish ingredient used to create a smooth application and finish. It is known to cause reproductive toxicity and can cause adverse affects to the central nervous system (CNS) and several other organs.

Formaldehyde is used to harden and strengthen nail polishes, also serving as a preservative that impairs bacterial growth. At low levels formaldehyde is not dangerous however exposure to high amounts can cause many detrimental affects such as asthma, convulsions, nausea, and cancer.

Triclosan (TCS) is an antimicrobial agent commonly found in products such as deodorant, soap and toothpaste and has been used for over 20 years. Its use has been associated with emerging health concerns such as microbial resistance, higher incidence of allergies and endocrine disruption.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

Nail Polish – Jul 19, 2018

Jul 13, 2018

Our question was:

How long does it for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles to biodegrade?

A. 150 years
B. 250 years
C. 450 years
D. 1000 years

Congrats to David from the Gates group for winning the raffle!

PET (polyethylene terephthalate)is a ubiquitous material (recycle code 1) used in diverse applications from drink bottles and film to shirts and fabrics. In 2016, it was estimated that 56 million tons of PET are produced each year. It cannot be decomposed through biodegradation in the same way as organic materials can. It takes more than 30 years to decompose a plastic film container and about 450 years for a plastic beverage bottle. PET undergoes very slow degradation into small particles through photo-, physical, thermal, chemical, and biological degradation processes.

Japanese scientists have isolated a bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis that possesses two enzymes which can break down the PET into smaller pieces that the bacterium can digest. A colony of I. sakaiensis can disintegrate a plastic film in about six weeks.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

PET degradation – July 12, 2018

Thu, June 5th, 2018

Our question was:

According to the 2018 Table of Exposure Limits for Chemical and Biological Substances published by WorkSafe BC, which of these common lab solvents has the lowest Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of exposure?

A. Acetone
B. Dichloromethane
C. n-Hexane
D. Ethyl Acetate

Congrats to Frances from the Sammis group for winning the raffle!

WorkSafeBC publishes the exposure limit table in accordance with its mandate under the Workers Compensation Act to provide information and promote public awareness. Here are the Time Weighted Average (TWA) TLV exposure limits of a few common lab solvents:

– Acetone: 250 ppm
– Dichloromethane: 25 ppm
– n-Hexane: 20 ppm
– Ethyl Acetate: 150 ppm

n-Hexane is well established as a neurotoxin. Chronic n-hexane exposure produces a gradual sensorimotor neuropathy with demyelinating features. The most common initial complaint is numbness and tingling of the toes and fingers; a progressive loss of motor function may develop.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

Exposure Limits – July 5, 2018

Thu, June 28th, 2018

Our question was:

Which of these carcinogens are generated when red-coloured fireworks detonate?

A. Polychlorinated aromatic compounds
B. Nickel compounds
C. Benzo(a)-pyrene
D. Chromium compounds

Congrats to Xing from the Kennepohl group for winning the raffle!

Red-burning pyrotechnic flares typically contain metallic fuel as the oxidizer, an organochlorine compound, an organic binder, and sometimes auxiliary chlorine sources.  The source of the red colour comes from strontium monochloride, which is produced by burning strontium compounds with polyvinyl chloride.  Along with the red colour, mixtures of potentially carcinogenic polychlorinated aromatic compounds are released upon combustion.  In order to produce more environmentally-friendly fireworks, scientists have looked to replace polyvinyl chloride with hexamine or 5-amino-1H-tetrazole.  The use of these compounds removes chlorine from the system and helps to produce strontium monohydroxide, which also burns red.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

Red-coloured fireworks – June 28, 2018

Thu May 24th, 2018

Our question was…

Which one of these legal drugs was one of the most frequently detected in a mid-2000s survey of drinking water produced from surface raw waters in Ontario?

a) Cyclopenthiazide
b) Carbamazepine
c) Acetaminophen
d) Progesterone

Congrats to Kiara from the Grant group for winning the raffle!

In 2007, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment conducted a survey of the occurrence of Pharmaceuticals and Other Emerging Contaminants in untreated water in Ontario, and examined the levels and occurrence of pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants. The top 4 chemicals in descending order were:

Carbamazepine (Anti-epileptic, anti-depressant)
Gemfibrozil (Cholesterol regulating drug)
Bisphenol A (Plasticizer)
Ibuprofen (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)

These listed substances all end up in raw sewage as they are poorly absorbed and metabolized by the body. They exist in such small quantities (in the parts-per-trillion level) that they are not considered a threat to human health if they end up in drinking water. Chlorination is the most effective at degrading these pharmaceuticals before the drinking water reaches the consumer, however this method does not fully remove them and they are persistently detected in water systems where “treated” wastewater is released.

Please see the attached fact sheet fore details about the survey.

Drugs in water – May 24, 2018

Thu May 11th, 2018

Our question was…

Ionic liquids (ILs) are promising “green” candidates for reaction over traditional volatile organic compounds. Which of the following is not a green IL?

A. 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride
B. Butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate
C. Butyl-3-methylimidazolium methyl sulfate
D. Butyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate

Congrats to Kitty from the Berlinguette group for winning the raffle!

Ionic liquids are ionic compounds which exist in the liquid state at temperatures below 100. They are promising green candidates for solvents in industry, specifically pharmaceuticals, however there are several limitations which must be overcome.

Ionic liquids have the advantage of being not being flammable, having low volatility, low vapour pressures, and can often be recycled. All of which abide by the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry, however the disposal of ionic liquids is generally the problem. For example, ionic liquids based on BF4 and PF6 salts can decompose in the presence of water to form HF. This makes them more difficult to dispose of. Luckily, research is being conducted to replace these fluorinated anions with more benign alternatives, such as sulfonates and acetates.

Find more information and references in the attached fact sheet.

Ionic liquids – 11 May 2018

Thu Apr 19th, 2018

Our question was…

Which of the following plastics are both biodegradable and from renewable feedstocks?

a) PE, PP

b) PA, PTT



Congrats to Ana from the Schafer group for winning the raffle!

Conventional plastics are derived from fossil fuels and are non-biodegradable. Examples are Polyethylene (PE) and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Due to environmental concerns, many people are now switching to producing and consuming bioplastics. The term bioplastic means the polymer is either biodegradable or has, at least partly, been derived from plant feedstocks.

Polylactic acid (PLA), Polybutylene succinate (PBS), polyamide (PA), and Polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) are all derived from renewable plant resources. However, PA and PTT are not biodegradable. Some fossil fuel based plastics, such as polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and Polycaprolactone (PCL) are biodegradable. These plastics are also considered bioplastics.

PLA and PBS are bio-derived and biodegradable bioplastics.

For more information see the link below.

Biodegradable Plastic – 19 Apr 2018

Thu Apr 6th, 2018

Our question was…

Of the following sources of clothing, which is the most sustainable?

a) Polyester

b) Polyethylene terephthalate from recycled plastic bottles

c) Cotton

d) Rayon

Congratulations to Aidan from the Orvig lab 🙂

Synthetic fibers, such as polyester and rayon, are nondegradable, consume nonrenewable petroleum feedstocks and contribute to greenhouse gas emission. Natural cotton may not be sustainable since it requires a lot of water for irrigation and consumes about 25% of pesticides applied globally. One option for sourcing synthetic fiber is by recycling polyethylene terephthalate from plastic bottles (currently produced by Nike). As for cotton, solutions include developing more sustainable production and using other natural fibers. For example, using Eucalyptus wood pulp to prepare Lyocell, a form of Rayon produced from cellulose.

For more information see the link below.

Synthetic Fibers – 06 Apr 2018

Thu Mar 22nd, 2018

Our question was…

Which segment of the chemical industry has the highest E factor (kg of waste generated/kg of product)?

a) Pharmaceuticals

b) Oil Refining

c) Fine Chemicals

d) Bulk Chemicals

Congrats to Anna from the Gates group for winning the raffle! 🙂

The E factor increases dramatically on going downstream from oil refining (E < 0.1) to bulk chemicals (E < 1-5) to fine chemicals (E = 5 – >50) and specialties such as pharmaceuticals (E = 25 – >100). This is partly owing to the fact that the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals involves multi-step syntheses but is also a reflection of the use of stoichiometric reagents rather than catalytic methodologies.

For more information see the link below.

E factor – 22 Mar 2018

Thu Feb 15th, 2018

Our question was…

Of the list below, which solvent is the most energy intensive to prepare?

a) THF

b) Hexanes

c) DMF

d) Ethanol

Congrats to Ghinwa from the Algar group for winning the raffle! 🙂

The challenge with calling a solvent “green” comes from varying ways to look at the solvent. For example, is a solvent green just because it is derived from a biomass source? In 2011, Philip G. Jessop wrote a fantastic piece in Green Chemistry entitled Searching for Green Solvents, in which he examines all these factors and discusses the use of green solvents in sustainability focuses journals. He also discusses the challenges for people to adopt green solvents in their work.

For more information see the link below.


Thu Feb 8th, 2018

Our question was…

How much of UBC’s total energy do fume hoods consume?

A) 5 %

B) 10 %

C) 15 %

D) 20 %

Congrats to Erin from the Bertram group for winning the raffle! 🙂

Fume hoods are a piece of equipment that most chemists use, some daily! Fume hoods are fitted with movable sashes that provide a safety barrier between the hood interior and the laboratory. Sashes should be opened only to set up or modify an experiment, but some sashes are left open when not in use. An open fume hood can use as much energy as 3.5 homes. There are over 1200 fume hoods in research labs across campus!

For more information see the link below.

Fumehoods_Feb 8_2018

Thu Feb 1st, 2018

Our question was…

When considering a choice for a greener solvent for a reaction, water is certainly a possibility. Which of the following factors is considered a drawback when evaluating the greenness of water compared to many other solvents?

a) Availability

b) Boiling point

c) Cost

d) Toxicity

Congrats to Corey from the Fryzuk group for winning the raffle! 🙂

A very good overview over green solvents and how they have been assessed, gives the article “Searching for green solvents” by P. Jessop. The solvent of choice for green chemistry is water, which is a non-toxic liquid. The only property, that makes water less attractive as a green solvent, is its high boiling point compared to other solvents, which makes it difficult to distill it off after the reaction.

For more information see the link below.


Thu 25th January, 2018

Our question was…

Which halogenated solvent was restricted under Montreal Protocol in 1987?

The answer was CCl4 (carbon tetrachloride)

Congrats to Mathieu from the Perrin group for winning the raffle! 🙂

Carbon tetrachloride was first synthesized from reacting chlorine withcchloroform, but was later more commonly produced from methane. It was used as a solvent in a variety of reactions because of it can dissolve a wide range of non-polar organic compounds. One of the major applications is the well-known Appel reaction.

However, due to its high toxicity and ozone depleting potential, carbon tetrachloride was listed as one of the restricted chemicals under Montreal Protocol in 1987. From then on, it has been phased out in most of the places around the world.

For more information see the link below.

Greenness of water_Feb_02_2018

Thu 26th October, 2017

Our question was…

By how many percent do we have to reduce our CO2-emissions to stabilize the current amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?
A) 10-20%

B) 30-50%

C) 60-80%

D) At least 90%

Congrats to Kathera from the Gates group for winning the raffle! 🙂

According to Paul Crutzen (“Albedo Enhancement by Stratospheric Sulfur Injections: A Contribution to Resolve a Policy Dilemma?”), we would have to reduce our worldwide CO2-emissions by 60-80%. However, current policies (or policies made around 1990 in the EU) would only reach a cut down to 40%. All sectors need to contribute to the low-carbon transition according to their technological and economic potential.

For more information see the below link!


Thu 19th Oct, 2017

Our question was…

What change would have the biggest impact on your energy bill?

a) Lower your heating by 2°C
b) unplug unused electronics
c) hang dry your laundry
d) take shorter showers (1 min less)

Congrats to Antonio from the Perrin group for winning the raffle! 🙂

According to BC Hydro:
You can save up to 72$ per year, if you reduce the number on your thermostat by 2°C. Of course 5°C would result in an even higher saving (up to 10%). Nearly 60% of the energy Canadians are using, is being used for heating.

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached.


Thu 12th October, 2017

Our question was…

What takes the longest to decompose in the marine environment?

A. Plastic Bag
B. Disposable Diapers
C. Monofilament fishing line (made of one strain of polymer)
D. Leather

Congrats to Lily from the Orvig group for winning the raffle! 🙂

According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, these are the times that marine debris takes to decompose:

-Glass Bottle: 1 Million years
-Mono filament fishing line: 600 years
-Plastic Beverage Bottles: 450 years
-Disposable Diapers: 450 years
-Leather: 50 years
-Plastic Bag: 10-20 years

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached, and join us again next week for more fun GreenChem trivia!

Marine Decomposition_ Oct122017

Thu 5th October, 2017

Our question was…

Calculate the acidification potential of NH3 relative to SO2, given the equation: APi= (ai/MWi)/(aSO2/MWSO2)

A. 1.07   B. 0.88   C. 1.60   D. 1.88

Congrats to Carlos from the Mehrkhodavandi group for winning the raffle! 🙂

Volatile compounds that are emitted into the atmosphere can dissolve in water and form atmospheric precipitations, resulting in acid rains. The acid rain will further damage plants, soil, water streams and affect ecosystems. The acidification potential is a metric to measure the potential of a volatile compound can form acid rains.

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached.


Thu 21th September, 2017

Our question was…

What is the indirect global warming potential of n-hexane relative to CO2?

A. 1.96   B. 6.00   C. 3.06   D. 0.51

Congrats to Phil from the Withers group! 🙂

The indirect global warming potential is calculated based on the carbon number and molecular weight of a compound, using CO2 as a reference:


Where NCi is the number of carbon in the compound and MWi is the molecular weight of the compound; NCCO2 is the number of carbon in CO2 and MWCO2 is the molecular weight of the compound. CO2 is used as a reference and its GWP is 1.

Hexane has 6 carbons and a MW of 86, giving a GWP of 3.06.

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached.


Thu 14th September, 2017

Our question was…

Production of hexane requires 64 MJ/kg of energy; distillation returns 46 MJ/kg and incineration returns 55 MJ/kg. Which route is more energy efficient and what is the cumulative energy demand?

A) Incineration, 119 MJ/kg   B) Incineration, 9 MJ/kg   C) Recycling, 119 MJ/kg   D) Recycling, 18 MJ/kg   E) Equal, 101 MJ/kg

Congrats to Phil from the Withers group as the winner! 🙂

Cumulative energy demand (CED) is the energy required to manufacture a compound minus the energy returned by the treatment: distillation or incineration. In the case of hexane, the energy required to manufacture is 64 MJ/kg, and the energy returned by incineration is higher than that by distillation, which means incineration will give a lower CED (9 MJ/kg) than recycling (18 MJ/kg).

In general, incineration is environmentally favoured for solvents that are easy to manufacture and distillation is environmentally favoured for solvents that are difficult to manufacture. For example, the production energy cost of DMF is about 90 MJ/kg, and incineration returns 25 MJ/kg while distillation returns 57 MJ/kg. The CED for recycling DMF will be much more energy efficient due to the high energy demand in manufacturing of DMF.

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached.


Thu 10th August, 2017

Our question was…

What is the current pH level of ocean water? (answer in 1-digit number)

The answer is 8.

Congrats to Meng from the Bertram group as the winner! 🙂

The pH of the ocean is partially determined by the carbon cycle on Earth, where CO2 fluxes between oceans, biosphere, lithosphere and the atmosphere. Due to the significantly intensified fossil fuel combustions since Industrial Revolution, the acidification of ocean has been accelerated due to the intensified emission of CO2.

The process of CO2 dissolving in seawater can be described by the following equation:

CO2(aq) + H2O <-> H2CO3 <-> HCO3- + H+ <-> CO32- + 2H+

The pH level of water in Pre-industrial period was approximately 8.179, and had dropped to 8.104 in 1990s. Up till now, there has been a drop of 0.11 in pH since 18th century, representing a 29% increase in H+. It is estimated that the pH of ocean will drop below 8 by 2050, and will drop to ~7.8 by 2100.

Read more about it in the fact sheet attached.


Thu 20th July,2017

Our question was…

What is the atom economy of the following reaction?

C(s) + 2H2O(g) -> CO2(g)+ 2H2(g)

The answer was… 8.3%

Congratulations to Kris from the Love lab! 🙂

The atom economy is defined as:

Atom Economy= (molecular mass of desired product)/(molecular mass of all reactants)

In this case, the reactants are carbon and water, and the desired product is H2:
Atom Economy = 2xMW(H2)/(MW(C)+2MW(H2O))x100%=8.3%


Thu 13th July, 2017

Our question was…

Which of the following chemicals is used to reduce the emission of NOx in industrial processes?
A.Lime (CaO) B. NH3 C. NaOH D. CaCO3

Congratulations to Jordan from the Withers lab! 🙂

Selective catalytic reduction and selective non-catalytic reduction are common methods used in NOx reduction, in which ammonia or urea is injected to react with NOx to form nitrogen and water. The process can be described
by the following equations:

4NO + 4NH3 + O2 -> 4N2 + 6H2O
2NO2 + 4NH3 + O2 -> 3N2 + 6H2O
NO + NO2 + 2NH3 -> 2N2 + 3H2O


Thu March 30th, 2017

Our question was…

Where is ozone layer located in Earth’s atmosphere?

A. Troposphere      B. Stratosphere      C. Mesosphere      D. Thermosphere

Congratulations to Harvey from the Gates lab! 🙂

The highest level of ozone occurs in the stratosphere of Earth’s atmosphere, which starts at about 10 to 18 km above the ground and ends at 50 km above the around. Although the the average ozone concentration in this ozone layer is only 10 ppm, it is considerably high compared to the average ozone concentration in the entire atmosphere, which is about 0.3 ppm. The ozone layer usually resides near the bottom of the stratosphere and is approximately 10-15 km above the ground. Ozone in the stratosphere is produced from photochemical reaction of O2: the ultraviolet light strikes the O2 molecules, which are in turn split into oxygen atoms. The produced oxygen atom subsequently reacts with another O2 molecule to generate O3


Thu March 23rd, 2017

Our question was…

What chemical process is utilized to make biodiesel?

A. Transesterification      B. Ethanolization        C. Glycerol conversion        D. Fermentation

Congratulations to Jeff from the Gates lab! 🙂

Biodiesel is a diesel-fuel substitute made from vegetable oil or animal fat obtained from renewable materials, through the chemical process called transesterification reaction. The reaction occurs between the oil or animal fat and an alcohol in presence of a base catalyst. The process leaves behind two products — methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable by product usually sold to be used in soaps and other products). Typically, biodiesel is blended with petroleum diesel to create a blend of varied ratios.


Thu March 16th, 2017

Our question was…

Which of the following is not usually a part of life cycle assessments?

A. Determination of the environmental and human health impacts

B. Statement of the boundaries or limitations of the assessment

C. Determination of the energy and material requirements for running the process

D. Analysis of the commercial and cultural aspects of running the process


Congratulations to Nikita from the Ciufolini lab! 🙂

Life cycle assessments focus on the environmental impacts of products, processes or services,through production, usage, and disposal. There are four linked components of LCA: Goal definition and scoping, life-cycle inventory, impact analysis, improvement analysis. Another important aspect is social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), a method which can be used to assess the social and sociological aspects of products, their actual and potential positive as well as negative impacts along the life cycle. S-LCA does not provide information on the question of whether a product should be produced or not – although information obtained from an S-LCA may offer “food for thought” and can be helpful for decision makers from business, governmental organizations and NGOs when choosing between products.


Thu March 2nd, 2017

Our question was…

Which substance acts as a female hormone and has been banned in baby bottles in Canada, but is still used as a plasticizer in everyday-use plastic bottles?

A. Estrogen       B. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate       C. Bisphenol A       D. Glycol Methacrylate

Congratulations to Lev from the MacLachlan lab! 🙂

The chemical 2,2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl) propane, more commonly known as Bisphenol A (BPA), is a chemical monomer used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, and used in food contact materials such as beverage bottles, infant feeding bottles, food containers, processing equipment and other articles. It is also a potent endocrine disrupting chemical which can interfere with mammalian development by mimicking the action of the sex hormone oestradiol. However, European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) latest comprehensive re-evaluation of BPA exposure and toxicity published in January 2015 concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group, and the highest estimates for aggregate exposure are 3 to 5 times lower than the tolerable daily intake.


Thu February 23rd, 2017

Our question was…

Which of the following is NOT one of the principles of green chemistry?

A. Use of catalysis    B. Reduction of derivatization   C. Use of computational methods   D. Minimizing energy use

Congratulations to Jeff from the Orvig lab 🙂

The 12 principles of Green Chemistry provides a framework for scientists and engineers to use when designing new materials, products, processes, and systems. The principles focus on sustainable design criteria and have proven to be the source of innovative solutions to a wide range of problems. Green chemistry and green engineering embrace this power of design and when used wisely, can make significant contributions in the drive toward sustainability for the simultaneous benefit of the environment, economy, and society.


Thu February 16th, 2017

Our question was…

According to their life-cycle assessment, after one use, which of the following has the lowest environmental impact?

A. Cotton bags  B. Paper bags  C. PP reusable bags  D. Conventional HDPE bags

Congratulations to Kelsi L. from the Algar lab 🙂

The conventional HDPE bag had the lowest environmental impacts of the lightweight bags in eight of the nine impact categories. The bag performed well because it was the lightest bag considered. The lifecycle impact of the bag was dictated by raw material extraction and bag production, with the use of Chinese grid electricity significantly affecting the acidification and ecotoxicity of the bag.


Thu January 26, 2017

Our question was…

Which of the following organic compounds has the highest carcinogenicity (cancer risk) in drinking water?

A. Ethylene dibromide B. Vinyl chloride C. Dichloromethane D. Heptachlor epoxide 3

Congratulations to Jeff from the Orvig lab 🙂

Water is a powerful solvent that readily dissolves many natural and synthetic substances from the environment (e.g. inorganic salts, humic acids and pesticide residues). The composition of drinking water, therefore, is complex and varies between sites and with the seasons. A study by the school of public health at University of California Berkeley stated that in general, halogenated compounds tend to pose a higher cancer risk of than non-halogenated ones. Toxicity can be compared and analysed by giving substances a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) value – The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water, measured in microg/L. These compounds are of concern in drinking water because of regular exposure and their pseudo-persistence (though even non-persistent contaminants can be a risk of cancer in water).


Thu January 19, 2017
Our question was…

Which of the following compounds has the highest ozone depletion potential (ODP)?

A. CCl4 B. CClF2Br C. N2O D. CCl3F

Congratulations to Sanjia (Patrick) Xu from the Ciufolini lab 🙂

The ozone depletion potential (ODP) of CCl3F is referenced as 1. The value for N2O is 0.017, for CCl4 is 0.82 and that of CClF2Br is 7.9. These ozone depletion potential values are developed and estimated by the World Meteorological Organization. The values can be found on the EPA website:


Thu January 12, 2017

The question was…

Which of the following is NOT a component of syngas?

A. CO        B. CO2        C. NH3      D. H2

Congratulations to Carlos  from the Mehrkhodavandi lab 🙂

Syngas is a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and often carbondioxide, and is produced from a variety of sources containing a hydrocarbon feedstock by the gasification of a carbon-containing fuel to a gaseous
product with a calorific value. It is often used as an intermediate for the production of ammonia, methanol and synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.


Thu, November 24, 2016

The question was:

What is the current level of CO2 concentration in Earth’s atmosphere?

A. 400 ppm B. 200 ppm C. 1000 ppm D. 200 ppb

Congratulations to Kelsi from the Algar group 🙂

The current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 400 ppm, and there has been a linear increase in the CO2 concentration in recent years, from ca. 390 ppm in 2012, to 395 ppm in 2013 and has surpassed 400 ppm in 2016. The latest update from October 2016 shows that the CO2 level is 401.57 ppm.


Thu, November 17, 2016

The question was..

Which organic compound has the highest potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic life?

A. Decane B. Toluene C. Stearic acid D. 1-Decanol

Congratulations to Elesha from the Ryan group 🙂

This estimation is based on the octanol-to-water partition coefficient, kow, which is the ratio between a compound’s solubility in octanol to its solubility in water kow = concentration in octanol phase/concentration in aqueous phase As a general rule, saturated hydrocarbons usually have high tendency to participate into the organic layer since water won’t dissolve them. Usually acids have low kow values however, stearic acid has 18 carbons and its saturated hydrocarbon chain is a lot longer than decane. Luckily stearic acid is a naturally occurring product and relatively harmless but this idea is important to keep in mind when designing new compounds with potential toxicity.


Thu, November 10, 2016

The question was..

Which book ignited the environmental movement in the United States?

A. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice by Paul Anastasia and John Warner

B. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

C. The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

D. Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken

Congratulations to Taleah from the Legzdins lab 🙂

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist. Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson decided to warn the public about the long-term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world. In 1972, the EPA issued a cancellation order for DDT based on its adverse environmental effects, such as those to wildlife, as well as its potential human health risks. Since then, studies have continued, and a relationship between DDT exposure and reproductive effects in humans is suspected, based on studies in animals. In addition, some animals exposed to DDT in studies developed liver tumors. As a result, today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen by U.S. and international authorities. In these turbulent times it will be increasingly important for informed scientists to vehemently urge industry to adjust their processes in order protect our environment.


Thu, November 3, 2016

Which of the following metals is attributed for causing the Minamata disease, a neurological syndrome, that killed almost 2000 people in Japan last century?

A. Cd  B. Pb   C. Ag   D. Hg

Congratulations to Lev L. from the MacLachlan group 🙂

In 1950s, Chisso Co. Ltd. was producing a large amount of acetaldehyde made through catalysis. One catalyst used contained mercury and methyl mercury was a side product of the catalytic cycle. The company released methylmercury directly into the river allowing organisms in the water to digest the mercury. Fish ate the smaller organisms leading to bio-magnification, then the people living nearby ate the fish causing Minamata disease. It was documented that people with this disease were seen running hysterically on the street and saying unknown things loudly.


Thu, October 20, 2016

Our question was…

Considering mining to production (cradle-to-gate), which of the following metals has the highest global warming potential?

A. Pd B. Rh C. Ir D. Pt

Congratulations to Nikita J. from the Ciufolini group 🙂

A 2014 study evaluated the environmental effects of a variety of metals by analyzing cumulative energy use, global warming potential, human health implications and ecosystem damage. This study showed that precious metals including platinum group elements (Ru, Rh, Pd, Os, Ir, Pt) and Au, display the highest environmental burdens per kilogram, with Rh being the worst metal in many of the categories.


Thu, October 13, 2016

Our question was… Which of the following gases has the longest atmospheric lifetime?

A. CH2F2 B. CFCl3 C. CH4 D. N2O

Congratulations to Rebecca F. from the Berlinguette lab 🙂

Nitrous oxide gives rise to nitric oxide (NO) on reaction with oxygen atoms, and this NO in turn reacts with ozone. It is also a major greenhouse gas and air pollutant. Considered over a 100-year period, it is calculated to have between 265 and 310 times more impact per unit mass (global-warming potential) than carbon dioxide.