Issue Date: June 19, 2006
Cold drinks get hot
Perhaps some of your other readers also grinned−or grimaced−at the end of "Dispute over Benzene in Drinks" (C&EN, April 24, page 10) when it was suggested that benzene in many consumer beverages was not present until created in an analytical test. That test involved boiling the beverage for 30 minutes, presumably to remove carbon dioxide from solution. The assumption seemed to be that these drinks would not normally experience such temperatures.
This may be true, but those of us who have worked in stores and warehouses know that these drinks are often stored in the sun and transported in very hot metal trailers and railcars. These exposures to heat often occur for much longer than 30 minutes−days or weeks are not uncommon. True, these are sealed, often pressurized containers, so equilibrium effects may restrict any decarboxylation reactions, but let's not think these beverages are never heated just because we usually serve them cold. This doesn't necessarily mean we are drinking unsafe levels of benzene, but hopefully someone is checking actual bottles off the shelf!
Clifford E. Harris
May 22, page 34. The instrument pictured should have been identified as a Dionex high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system, not a gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer.
May 29, page 11. Dow Chemical's R&D spending for 2005 was $1.1 billion.
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