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‘Chemistry and Water’ is the theme of the ACS fall national meeting

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
June 29, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 26


The American Chemical Society Fall 2019 National Meeting in San Diego is fast approaching. Of course, C&EN has many activities in the pipeline, including the fifth edition of C&EN’s Talented 12, our pick of rising stars in the chemical sciences, who will be revealed during the meeting on Sunday and then delight our audience with TED-style talks during a symposium on Monday morning. It is a must-watch event, so stay tuned for further announcements.

The theme of this national meeting is “Chemistry and Water,” so expect plenty of talks and events exploring the issues of water quality and scarcity and the ever-growing stresses on fresh and sustainable water supplies globally. Sadly, clean-water availability continues to be one of the most serious risks facing the world and one that is likely to become more acute as the climate crisis continues to take its toll and existing supplies are under increased pressure to cater to a growing population.

The United Nations’ sustainable development goals recognize this crisis and include clean water and sanitation as goal 6, which reads, “Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in.” The data provided to support this goal reveal that there is an incredible amount of work to do and that progress has been nothing but slow. You can judge for yourself. Here are some of the UN’s facts and figures:

▸ “3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities. . .

▸ “Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge. . .

▸ “Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.”

Ahead of the ACS national meeting, Accounts of Chemical Research has published a special issue that explores the water theme. “Water for Two Worlds: Urban and Rural Communities” is guest edited by Arizona State University’s Paul Westerhoff and Treavor Boyer and University of Colorado Boulder’s Karl Linden. The guest editorial that introduces the issue summarizes the challenges and barriers succinctly and argues that existing technologies do not meet modern drinking-water expectations. This realization is driving two of the main trends we are observing for water treatment technologies—namely, decentralization and diversification. Communities are increasingly relying on point-of-use technologies, even at the household scale, which in turn is encouraging innovative, low-energy, ideally low-cost approaches that produce “fit-for-purpose water quality at the point of consumption,” according to the editorial.

The issue includes a collection of papers from leading research groups that are working to address the challenge that is clean-water availability, and it shares their latest results and ideas “for advancing technology development and protection of water supplies in ways that will continue to improve human health,” the editorial says.

C&EN is also supporting the water theme by partnering with the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement to hold a Chemistry in Pictures competition. We are looking for images that depict, for example, water’s effect on chemistry, or people and water. Submissions should be “high-quality entries with a splash of creativity that help demonstrate scientific concepts,” according to the contest page. Submissions close on July 3, so hurry and submit your entries. Three winners will receive cash prizes and a reusable water bottle, and their entries will be displayed in the ACS Meeting Insider that will publish with the Aug. 5 C&EN and will be distributed at the meeting.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS..


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