Course Title: Chemistry in our Daily Lives
Course Code: CHEM2402
Number of credits: 3 credits
Pre-requisites: CHEM1901/CHEM1902 or HOD permission
Note: Can not be used as an elective for a Major in Chemistry, except Chemistry and Education.
The course will focus on the role of chemistry in necessities of
daily life such as the chemistry of life, agriculture, food,
housing, healthcare, clothing, transport and communications. In
addition it will introduce various applications of chemistry in
the area of arts, crime and law enforcement, consumer products,
cosmetics, warfare, economics and politics.
Chemistry in the Kitchen: 2014- Dr I. Thompson:
Butter and cooking oil - saturated and unsaturated fatty acids,
hydrogenation of oil. Prostaglandins. Chemicals from our bodies -
antioxidants and cholesterols. Chemistry of cooking - physical
and chemical changes, stability of nutrients during cooking.
Microwave cooking. Water purification. Food sterilization and
Chemistry in the Laundry:
Soaps. Synthetic surfactants and their mode of actions. Laundry
detergents - organic and inorganic builders, inert fillers,
fluorescers, foam. Bleach - chlorine, sodium perborate.
Washing in machines - solid and liquid laundry detergents -
compositions, surfactants and their potentiation.
Biodegradability. Dry cleaning and its effect on the environment.
Other household cleaning agents.
Chemistry in Cosmetics
The skin and skin penetration drugs in cosmetics. Deodorants and
antiperspirants. Sunlight on skin. Hair and hair products for
bleaching, colouring, moisturizing. Lipstick, toothpaste and baby
Chemistry in the Garden:
Food for plants, nutrient deficiencies in plants. Fertilizers,
composting, pesticides and their toxicities. Insecticides,
fungicides. Biological control of weeds and pests. Genetically
Chemistry in the Swimming pool:
Chlorination of swimming pools. Effect of pH. Measuring the
amount of chlorine in water. Super chlorination. Effect of
sunlight on chlorine.
Chemistry of Textiles: 2016- R.J.Lancashire
Fibers, yarns, and fabrics. Dyes and dyeing. Flammability. Carpet materials.
Leather materials - chemistry of tanning.
Chemistry in the Medicine cabinet:
Types of drugs in the cabinet and their chemistry and toxicity
evaluation. Aspirin and analgesics, sulfa drugs, tranquilizers.
Antidepressants, antihistamines. Generics replacing brand- name
drugs. Drugs for chemotherapy.
Chemistry of Energy:
Energy we use and energy we need. Energy cost. Alternate energy -
solar and fuel cell. Chemistry of the car - compression ratio;
air: fuel ratio, fuel additives, lubricating oil, brake fluid,
accumulators. Pollution from motor vehicles.
Chemistry in the atmosphere:
Pollution. Acid rain. Ozone layer. Global warming. Green
chemistry. Relevant international conventions.
Chemistry of Local Industries:
Chemistry of the alumina, sugar and food industries and their
implications in the community. Petroleum cracking. Ethanol
production. The cement industry.
Chemistry and sports: 2014- R.J.Lancashire
Cold packs. Hydration fluids, sports drinks, design of suitable
materials for clothing and shoes for athletes. Design of
materials to be used in sports equipment e.g. football/tennis
ball, poles for vaulting, tennis racquets and golf clubs, spikes.
Performance testing methods. Blood lactate level
testing. Anti-inflammatory drugs. Anabolic
steroids. Drug testing at sporting events.
Chemistry of common appliances:
TV/computer screens, printer inks, photocopying machines, cell
phones, batteries, clocks. Stainless steel. Corrosion resistant
Chemistry and crime: 2014- R.J.Lancashire
Drug testing. Ganja, Cocaine, crack. Breathalyzers. DNA analysis. Toxicity
and poisons. Arson and analysis of explosives, soil at crime scenes.
Chemistry of minerals:
Limestone, ruby, sapphire, quartz, emeralds, diamond, topaz etc.
Ethical issues in chemical research:
Chemical and nuclear weapons. Environmental issues. Integrity of
scientific results, the welfare of research participants.
Investigating the "myths" and some general topics
Public perceptions on issues such as "organic", "natural"
materials and foods. Bottled water compared to tap water. Mercury
in dental amalgams. Cooking in microwave ovens. Validation of
chemistry found on Wikipedia pages.
The History of Phosphorus and the Match
The History and Chemistry of ink
The teaching of this 3 credit course will be carried out using
the following format:
Formal lecture course: 24 hours
Presentations /problem based classes and tutorials: 16 hours
Total contact hours = 40
The course assessment will be broken into two components; a final
examination worth 50% and a coursework component consisting of
assignments worth 50%. The assignments will take the form of 6 written
reports (best 5 marks used) and three associated 10 minute Oral
One (1) two-hour written examination 50%
Best five (5) written assignments and three (3) presentations 50%
Selinger, Ben: Chemistry in the Marketplace (5th ed.) Harcourt
Karukstis, Kerry K. and Van Hecke, Gerald R.: Chemistry Connections, The
Chemical Basis of Everyday Phenomena, Harcourt/Academic Press (2003)
Atkins, Peter: Atkins' Molecules, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition 2003,
Luning Prak, Dianne J. and Copper, Christine L.,
A Chemistry Minute: Recognizing Chemistry in Our Daily Lives,
J. Chem. Educ., 2008, 85 (10), p 1368
Moy Cheryl L., Locke Jonas R., Coppola Brian P., and McNeil Anne
J. Improving Science Education and Understanding through Editing
Wikipedia. J. Chem. Educ., 2010, 87 (11), pp 1159-1162
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Copyright © 2011-2016 by Robert John
Lancashire, all rights reserved.
Created and maintained by Prof. Robert J.
The Department of Chemistry, University of the West Indies,
Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica
Created July 2011. Links checked and/or last modified
10th October 2016.