30 No. 5
J.G. Ibanez, M. Hernandez-Esparza, C. Doria-Serrano, A. Fregoso-Infante, M.M. Singh
Springer, New York, 2007, 334 pp.
Microscale Laboratory Experiments
Springer, New York, 2007, 238 pp.
Modern science is not straightforward. Intricate relationships exist among the different disciplines involved in the understanding of virtually every scientific issue and phenomenon. The days of the Renaissance, when a single person could master a large portion of the knowledge available, are long gone. This is not due to a lack of individual capacity, but rather to the explosion of knowledge that is characteristic of our times.
Environmental science—and more specifically, environmental chemistry—finds itself completely immersed in such a scenario. In this context, a book written by several authors with complementary backgrounds and interests is perfectly suited to this challenge.
These books are written with sophomore or junior college students in mind, and students are assumed to have a minimum background in organic chemistry and biochemistry. However, issues are often presented in such a way that general chemistry students—and even graduate students—can find subjects of interest applicable to their level.
The beginning of the first book, Fundamentals, presents a general introduction to environmental chemistry (Chapter 1) and a summary of the main background concepts that a student of environmental chemistry ought to know (Chapters 2 and 3). Subsequent chapters discuss the composition and characteristics of the natural chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere (Chapter 4), the lithosphere (Chapter 5), and the hydrosphere (Chapter 6). This discussion concludes by examining natural biochemical processes and introducing the organisms in the biosphere (Chapter 7). The following chapters analyze the effects of key pollutants (Chapters 8 and 9), their treatment (Chapters 10 and 11), and the minimization and prevention of pollution, with an emphasis on green chemistry (Chapter 12). Each chapter also contains a list of educational experiments in the literature related to its subject and a list of other useful references.
The second book, Microscale Laboratory Experiments, presents 24 experiments ranging from the characterization of aqueous media to pollutant-treatment schemes. To increase safety and environmental awareness and to reduce cost, waste, and environmental damage, the authors recommend performing the experiments at the microscale (also called the small-scale) level. Such experiments typically use microliters or micromoles of at least one of the reagents.
All told, the books contain 240 questions, problems, and examples. and more than 150 figures, 70 tables, and 1300 references to the literature (almost 50 percent of these references relate to educational environmental activities and experiments). And 80 additional related projects are suggested in the experimental section.
Because environmental analytical chemistry is of the utmost importance in understanding a large number of environmental issues, a comprehensive list of environmental chemistry experiments that give prominence to analysis—and that require instrumentation beyond that used in the experimental manual—is given in the Appendix.
Among the most important issues in environmental science are the appreciation and knowledge of the different phenomena involved in our environment, and the ongoing need to participate in its care. Hopefully these books will contribute a grain of sand to such an end.
Names of the authors appear below followed by the institutions where they did graduate work, then by their present affiliations:
- Margarita Hernandez-Esparza (Stanford Research Institute), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
- Ma. del Carmen Doria-Serrano (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
- Arturo Fregoso-Infante (University of Kansas at Missouri), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
- Mono Mohan Singh (St. Petersburg University), Merrimack College, Massachusetts, United States
- Jorge G. Ibanez (University of Houston), Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
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