The March 2019 Chemical Bulletin Print

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Click HERE to download the PDF of the March 2019 Chemical Bulletin

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Next Meeting

Public Affairs Meeting

Dr. Zafra Lerman

- President -
Malta Conferences Foundation

"Science Diplomacy Can Succeed Where Other Diplomacies Have Failed"

5:30 - 9:00 PM, MARCH 21

Oakton Community College, Des Plaines

remote site: Purdue University Northwest (Hammond , IN)


Because science can be used to both improve life and cut it short, scientists have a special responsibility to use science for the betterment of humankind. In this talk, we’ll discuss how science can be used as a bridge to peace. During the 1980’s, when geopolitics threatened world peace, chemists from the US and Soviet Union eased tensions by engaging one another. In 1998, US and Cuban chemists began a relationship in which ACS delegations attended Cuban Chemical Society conferences. Following the 9/11 attack on the US, science diplomacy efforts focused on the Middle East to overcome cultural, political, and religious barriers to help prevent acts of war and terrorism. To help promote stability in the Middle East, every other year since 2003 the Malta Conferences bring together six Nobel laureates with scientists from 15 Middle East countries including Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, and Jordan for five-day scientific discussions. The Malta Conferences Foundation provides this forum to foster solutions to the scientific and technological challenges of the region: inadequate education, water scarcity, and environmental degradation. In this talk, we’ll explore the enormous impact of science diplomacy and how the Malta Conferences have become a powerful force for peace on the world stage.


• 5:30 - 6:30  Registration and Student Poster Session
• 6:00 - 6:30  Green Building Tour (meet at the registration desk)
• 6:30 - 7:30  Dinner 
• 7:30 - 7:45  Introductory remarks by Chicago Section Chair Tim Marin
• 7:45 - 8:30  Main Lecture

TEACHERS! All K-12 educators can receive continuing education credits for attending our meetings. Get your CE form at the registration desk.


Undergraduates can present posters describing their research, and the best one will win a prize! Register your poster here:

 ** **

! Did you present a poster at a recent conference? Bring it out and present it again!

PRE-DINNER: Green Building Tour, 6:00

Led by Debra Kutka, Sustainability Specialist at Oakton

DINNER - Main site only: Sandwich wrap bar

- Turkey & provolone, Grilled vegetable, Chicken Caesar
- Penne pesto pasta salad
- Brownies and cookies
- Water


Dinner Registration Deadline: 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, March 19
Lecture-only Registration Deadline: 12:00 noon Wednesday, March 20

QUESTIONS OR NON-WEB RESERVATIONS?  Please contact the Section Office via phone (847-391-9091) or email ([email protected]).


Prof. Zafra Lerman is the renowned scientist, scholar, and human rights leader who founded the Malta Conferences Foundation in 2002 and has led its growth ever since. She holds a PhD in chemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel and conducted research at Cornell and Northwestern Universities in the US, and the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. She developed an innovative approach of teaching science using art, music, dance, drama, and poetry which proved to be extremely successful among underprivileged students around the globe and received international recognition. She worked on human rights cases in many countries and at great risk to her safety, she succeeded in preventing executions, releasing prisoners of conscience from jail and bringing dissidents to freedom. She received over 40 international awards for her work, including the Presidential Award from President Clinton (1999); ACS Parsons Award (2002); Royal Society of Chemistry, England, Nyholm Award (2005); CRDF Global George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation (2007); ACS Pimentel Award (2010); AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy (2015); APS Andrei Sakharov Award (2016); Peace and Justice Award from the UN NOVUS summit (2016); IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry Award (2017). She was honored three times by the US Congress with speeches about her work in 2002, 2004, and 2013. She is invited to lecture internationally and was covered many times by print and electronic media.  



Oakton Community College
Main Building, room 1625
1600 E. Golf Rd.
Des Plaines, IL 60016

Map & Directions:

PARKING: Free in LOT A (see map)



Purdue University Northwest
Gyte Building, Room 240
2200 169th St.
Hammond, IN  46323





$0.00 MAIN SITE - Lecture only registration
$0.00 REMOTE SITE #1 - Lecture only registration
$0.00 Individual Donation (flexible amount)
$0.00 Company Sponsorship (flexible amount)
$0.00 Donation to Project SEED (flexible amount)
$15.00 T-shirt: CHICAgO Elements
$10.00 Tote bag: CHICAgO elements - blue

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Safety Feature

Wear Protective Gloves—A “Safety First” Minute
Best Practices to Advance a Culture of Safety

Welcome to the “Safety First” Minute for March—let’s talk about gloves! Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazardous chemicals include a standard precautionary statement, “Wear protective gloves.” Often, no further information is provided other than to select gloves that are impermeable or resistant to the substance. Great—but how do you know? Many SDS do not answer this question. Intuitively, that is, based on experience, we wouldn’t choose disposable vinyl gloves to protect against even incidental contact with concentrated acids, and we might wear neoprene or nitrile rubber gloves for this purpose. Intuition and experience are not always reliable guides, however, when selecting chemical-resistant gloves.

Working with halogenated solvents, for example, may require different gloves than hydrocarbons, and oxygenated compounds, even common aldehydes and ketones, may also have special requirements. A robust safety culture will provide you with access to standard operating procedures or SOPs that specify the material and thickness of gloves for different chemicals or classes of chemicals. If you don’t have access to an SOP for a chemical you are working with, or would like more information, you can consult chemical resistance charts provided online by various glove manufacturers. The chemical compatibility of glove materials for different chemicals is determined based on the results of three types of tests: degradation, breakthrough time, and permeation rate. Degradation refers to a change in physical properties of the glove material, such as swelling, wrinkling, stiffness or color change. If you notice any signs of degradation when wearing gloves with a particular chemical, choose a different type of glove. Principal glove materials available for routine laboratory chemical use include butyl, fluorinated (Viton™), latex, neoprene, nitrile, and vinyl (PVC).

Any general chemical resistance chart will contain the admonition to verify information for each specific purpose, which might include the amount of material you are working with, whether the “chemical” is a mixture, its concentration, the temperature, and how much dexterity is required for a particular procedure or process. Remember also that chemical hazards are not the only type of hazards requiring skin protection. Physical hazards include hot and cold temperatures, as well as sharp objects, including broken glass, that may cause cuts. These considerations should be part of the overall hazard and risk assessment process for any laboratory activity. Analyzing the degree of risk, which takes into account both the probability of injury, damage or harm when exposed to a hazard, and also the severity of the resulting harm, is a necessary prerequisite to choosing the right gloves, as well as other forms of personal protective equipment.

Do you have ideas or suggestions for future “Safety First” Minutes? This new cultural practice, which has been adopted by the ACS Chicago Section for its monthly meetings, as well as for the Chemical Bulletin, will be most beneficial, and more interesting, if all members participate by volunteering topics for discussion based on recent activities, events, interests, readings, etc. that are personal to them. l welcome your ideas for topics—please contribute! Call or email me, our section chair, or the editor of the Chemical Bulletin to participate

- Irene Cesa

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Who Is This?

Early ‘90’s Trade Shows

Did you ever work as an exhibitor at an exposition? With so many trade shows and conferences coming through our megalopolis, the Chicago Section often hosted booths at them to engage participants, facilitate local networking, and showcase our activities.

In 1992, we had a booth at the Environmental Technology Expo, as documented by photos recently extracted from our archives. Though at first the group of pictures all seemed to depict the same event, certain details, like the width of the booth and the content of the neighboring booths, indicate the collection covers two similar but distinct events.

Board member Larry Berman chaired the ad hoc committee in charge of the 1992 ETE expo, according to Bulletin records.[1] From 1991 to 1994, Berman was also chair of a committee called “Hazmat Expo”,[2] suggesting there was a hazardous materials-themed exposition held in Chicago in 1994, and that the photos we have are from the Chicago ACS booth there. We do not know the official title of that event.

The full set of photos is now available on our website as a gallery:

HELP: We need help identifying the people labeled as ETE-1, ETE-2, HAZ-1, and HAZ-2. If you have an idea who they are, or if you can share any other details about these events, especially personal anecdotes, please write to [email protected] with your insights. Thanks!

Also, thanks go to Prof. Ken Poeppelmeier (Northwestern), Dr. Steve Cohen (Elevance), Dr. Margaret Schott (Northwestern & Chicago ACS), and Margy Levenberg (Chicago ACS) for their help identifying subjects in the February Who Is This? Column. Captions have been updated in the photo gallery (, but we still need help with remaining identifications.

- Josh Kurutz, Section Historian ([email protected])

[1] Chemical Bulletin, June 1992, p.8

[2] ibid, Chemical Bulletin, June 1993, p.7; Chemical Bulletin, June 1994, p.7

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Historical Feature

Our National Commitment – The Congressional Charter

Since January 1, 1938, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has held a Congressional Charter. While Congressional Charters have become somewhat controversial in recent years, the fundamental intent of the ACS Charter remains quite relevant. It defines Our National Commitment.

What is a Congressional Charter? A charter is simply an Article of Incorporation or Corporate Charter. These are the legal documents that establish a corporation. Usually, Corporate Charters are issued by a State and the corporations operate under the corporate laws for that State.   However, on occasion, some corporations sought Congressional Charters stating their objectives were of national importance, specifically for the promotion of patriotic, charitable, educational and other purposes in the national welfare.  

While the original ACS Charter was enacted in 1938, the ACS Charter was recodified by law in 1998 and listed under Title 36 of the United States Code. The Charters are categorized into three Subtitles: I: Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies which designates National Holidays and Commemoration Days such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Grandparents Day. II: Patriotic and National Organizations; It is under Subtitle II that the US Code lists the 92 Patriotic and National Organizations chartered by Congress to promote patriotic, charitable, educational, and other activities for the national welfare including The American Chemical Society; and III: Treaty Obligation Organizations. Only one organization exist in Subtitle III, The American Red Cross.

In more recent years, the concept of Congressional Charters has come under attack. Some feel a Congressional Charter signifies Congressional oversight of the organization and Congress approves of its activities. It does not. Some feel these Charters are the domain of the States, not Congress. Still others feel that the burden of oversight is not something Congress has the capacity to enforce. This has caused Congress to put a moratorium on any new Charters.   However, the 92 organizations currently listed still maintain their status.

The Charter of the American Chemical Society was originally signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt on August 25, 1937 ( It contained 10 sections, most defining the corporate structure and finances. Two Sections hold the defining activities that the Society was Chartered to pursue. These are Our National Commitments. They state:

Sec. 2. That the object of the incorporation shall be to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches; the promotion of research in chemical science and industry; the improvement of the qualification and usefulness of chemists through high standards of professional ethics, education, and attainment; the increase and diffusion of chemical knowledge; and by its meetings, professional contacts, reports, papers, discussions, and publications, to promote scientific interests and inquiry, thereby fostering public welfare and education, aiding the development of our country’s industries, and adding to the material prosperity and happiness of our people.


Sec. 4: The American Chemical Society shall, whenever called upon by the War or Navy Department, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject in pure and applied chemistry connected with the national defense, the actual expenses of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may have been made for that purpose by Congress…

While the wording in the 1998 recodification was modified slightly, the primary focus of our Charter remains the same. The Charter of the ACS is truly unique in that it defines the organization as a critical element of our Nation’s prosperity, wellbeing and defense. It calls upon our society and its members to continuously advance the science and application of chemistry for the betterment of our Nation. It also calls upon our Society to act when called upon in the service of our national defense.  It is especially worth noting that the Charter directs this effort to be conducted through the continued social and professional interactions of the Society, “by its meetings, professional contacts, reports, papers, discussions, and publications.”   This defines a commitment of our members to continuously communicate, meet and share our knowledge.

It is through the words in this Charter that our nation’s chemists created a commitment to serve our country and its citizens. It is a commitment that every chemist, member of the ACS or not, should strive to achieve.

- Michael G. Koehler, Ph.D.

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My Favorite Element


If you haven’t heard, this is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019) as established by the United Nations. For the rest of this year I would like to highlight one of the elements each month. This month I have chosen the element phosphorus. There are a number of reasons but the main ones are that it was discovered in 1669 by Hennig Brandt (some sources spell it “Brand”). This was 350 years ago by an ancestor of mine (or at least I will claim as much). Brandt distilled down many liters of urine in order to isolate the phosphorus. Additionally, much of my thesis was on this element because of its marvelous ability to bond to heavy metals and being selective at doing so by changing the electronics and steric properties by simply substituting the R- groups attached to the phosphorus.

Elemental phosphorus is intriguing in that it exists in at least three common allotropes (white, red, and black). White phosphorus, P4, exists as a tetrahedron of phosphorus atoms that have tight 60° bond angles. This of course is not particularly stable so a bond can easily cleave and open up and polymerize giving the red form. The white form is also easily combustible and you may have seen it used in a chemical demonstration where the P4 is dissolved in CS2 to write on paper. When the CS2 evaporates, the P4 ignites and you get some writing with fire! Red phosphorus is more stable than white phosphorus but when given a little extra energy – like you do when striking a match, the red phosphorus is converted to white phosphorus and the sulfur and potassium chlorate in the match head ignite. Black phosphorus is being looked at for use in optoelectronics because its structure is puckered sheets of interconnecting 6-membered rings and its exfoliation is akin to the conversion of graphite to graphene.

Phosphorus is obtained from apatite or Ca3(PO4)2. It is used extensively in the formation of fertilizers and in fact can cause significant problems for the environment if there is too much released from detergents as was seen in the 1970’s. Algal blooms were common because the algae had an overabundance of phosphates available and the algae would deplete the waters of the available oxygen and sunlight, starving other aquatic life. Phosphate heavy detergents were banned and farming practices were altered to prevent an abundance of phosphate into the environment. As recently as 2010, phosphates were banned in dishwasher detergents.

Of course without phosphorus we would not have the use of ATP and certainly RNA, DNA, and phospholipid bilayers would be different. So even though we have had our difficulties with this element in the past there is no doubt as to the necessity of this element.

If you have a favorite element that you would like to see highlighted in the Bulletin this year, don’t hesitate to forward it on to me at [email protected].

- Paul Brandt

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Harris Cartoon with Mirkin Commentary

There is a healthy debate among scientists about which discipline can provide the best tools for solving key societal problems. This cartoon pokes fun at the sometimes—contentious relationship between chemists and biologists. Chemists are often the inventors and early developers of materials and techniques that drive biotechnology. Is this area (arguably biology’s most useful side) then really just chemistry in disguise? Can chemists lay claim to the most impactful discoveries within it? Whether you’d argue yes or no to these questions, it could be the biology community that gets the last laugh. Another clue in the man’s crossword puzzle: “A biologist who has made seminal discoveries in his or her field, perhaps (4 words).” The answer: N-O-B-E-L-L-A-U-R-E-A-T-E-I-N-C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y.

- Chad Mirkin, Northwestern

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Sponsors of this issue


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Calendar of Events


March 14: Chicago ACS Section Board Meeting

March 14: Illinois Science Council – Pi Day Pi K Fun Run/Walk. Starting time is 6:28 (2pi) pm. At Fleet Feet Sports in four locations around Chicago. Cost is $21.41. For further details see

March 16: Chicago ACS Local Chemistry Olympiad at Loyola University, North Central College, and Libertyville High School

March 17 – 21: Pittcon 2018 will be in Philadelphia, PA.

March 18 – 19: 11th Annual AIChE Midwest Regional Conference at the University of Illinois, Chicago

March 21: Chicago ACS Section Dinner Meeting.

March 22: Spring 2019 Chicago Symposium Series on Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science: Research and Practice at Loyola University from 10 am to 5 pm.

March 31 – April 4: 257th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition “Chemistry for New Frontiers”, Orlando, FL.

April 11 – 14: 67th Annual NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, St. Louis, MO.

April 6: The Marie S. Curie Girl Scout Chemistry Day program at Valparaiso University

April 13: The Marie S. Curie Girl Scout Chemistry Day program at North Central College

May 4: The Marie S. Curie Girl Scout Chemistry Day program at Oakton Community College

June 17: You Be The Chemist National Challenge

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