This news item was created by students Jennifer Aufder Heide, Mitzi Schenewerk, Mike Bloomer, Tim Michaelree, and Pete Franck as part of their Chemistry 212 Collaborative Group Activities in WS00 under the guidance of Prof. Rainer Glaser.

Glaser's "Chemistry is in the News"
To Accompany Wade Organic Chemistry 4/e.
Chapter 16. Aromatic Compounds.


For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:

STUDY PUTS CANCER SCARE IN AIR
John O'Mahony (New York Post, October 12, 1999).


Editorial Comments

Cancer causing air pollutants are an issue with every community. In a new report released by the EPA and published in the New York Post, four out of five boroughs are among the 10 counties nationwide with the highest concentration of cancer-causing toxins in the air. These pollutants include polycyclic organic matter, benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon tetrachloride, chromium, formaldehyde, and nickel. All of these pollutants are at levels greater than 100 times the Clean Air Act's goal levels.

The problem with air pollution in New York is common knowledge, but do you know about the air pollution levels in your own community? Scorecard is a web site designed to inform the public about the potential dangers in your county. It even lists the potential causes of the toxins you breathe.

There are several sites on the Internet that deal with the issue of air pollution and the ways that our air can be cleaned up. To see a list of these sites in one location, Air Pollution is a great resource to consider.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 16: Aromatic Compounds
Chapter 17: Reactions of Aromatic Compounds
Chapter 18: Aldehydes and Ketones



Question 1: What are the structures of the following molecules: benzene, 1,3-butadiene and formaldehyde?

Answer: See above links in the Editorial Comments

Question 2: Many of these carcinogenic compounds are interrelated, so much so that some compounds can be synthesized from others. Write the reaction that can turn the cis form of 1,3-butadiene into benzene using any other reagents or compounds.

Answer: See the textbook.

Question 3: What is the Clean Air Act's target level for the various toxins? The NAAQS. web site might prove to be helpful.

Answer: Can be found on the given web site.

Question 4: How could CCl4 be transformed into something non-toxic? See Thomas A. Lewis, Ph.D. for information on the mechanism to convert to CO2 or CH4.

Answer: Can be found on the web site.

Question 5: The last sentence of this article says that the age of the data involved "does not invalidate the EPA's conclusions." Do you think this is correct, or has the problem changed in the last ten years. Is air pollution getting better or worse?