What is Analytical Chemistry ? How is it Important in Daily Life

The importance of analytical chemistry lies in the fact that it checks the quality of medicines, food and other chemical used in daily life.

This is being used in industries and research institutes daily.

What is analytical chemistry?

Analytical chemistry is a branch of chemistry that deals with the analysis of chemical substances of all sorts.

The principles of this chemistry are used to check the quality of foods, drugs, and other chemicals used in daily life.

Without analytical procedures, it would be impossible to keep up with strict norms to ensure the safety of these chemicals.

But how analytical chemistry test’s the substance?

It does so by two methods as

  1. By qualitative test
  2. Quantitative check.

In qualitative analysis, the nature of the actual ingredient and other associated substances are identified.

For instance, let’s consider honey. It has many ingredients like water, sugar, pollen grains, invert sugar, etc.

Here invert sugar an adulterant added by the manufacturers to increase the bulk and make profits.

Qualitative analysis helps to determine how much of each ingredient is present in the whole honey sample. The presence of invert sugar indicates the quality of honey is low, and it is substandard.

In quantitative analysis, the extent of adulterant in the honey is identified. The more the invert sugar, the more is the decline in quality. Sometimes invert sugar present naturally due to the fermentation of sugar within honey. This natural formation has limits. If the threshold exceeds, it means there was an external addition by the supplier. So quantitative analytical chemistry helps to know how far the sample is adulterated. It helps us put limits on impurities that can be permissible in any given sample. So we see many products being rejected by FDA for not complying with the limits of safety for consumption. This is decided after careful analysis of the samples.

Thus analytical chemistry can help us in putting a check on the quality and quantity control of a product.

Examples of analytical chemistry in our daily life:

Analytical chemistry is taught in schools and colleges. But its application is made in pharmacy industries, food, chemical, agriculture industries, and also in scientific labs. Some of the tools used in the field are quite expensive that one cannot afford at home.

All the packed foods we buy, medicines, chemicals, cosmetics undergo a thorough quality test before being released into the market.

Importance of analytical chemistry in the pharmacy:

Pharmacy is one of the subjects where analytical chemistry is studied vastly. It is used for purposes like checking the quality of inorganic compounds, organic compounds, drugs and other useful chemicals.

It is mostly used for purposes like determining shelf life, dissolution studies, and contaminants.

To determine the shelf-life of a compound.

Self-life is the period till which a compound will be fit for use. For medicines, it is the time required for 90% of the drug ingredient to stay active after the date of manufacture. Hence, we can find an expiry date marked on all the medicine packages. This means a medicine cannot be sold if its expiry date is elapsed.

Further, one can notice that in a pharmacy, some medicines are stored in the refrigerator while some are stored in dark containers. These steps are taken to maintain the shelf-life by preventing the rapid degradation of the medication.

To determine adulterants

During the manufacture of drugs, there are many chemical intermediates and reagents used. So there are many chances that impurities like heavy metals, dirt, etc., can get incorporated into the final preparation. Analytical chemistry is used to see if the formulation is within the limits of contamination. If the contamination is high, then that batch of preparation is unfit for consumption.

Drug dissolution studies

When a medical formulation is made in the form of a tablet, ointment, capsule, etc. It is tested for its ability to release the medicine from within when putting in a suitable medium. The dissolution studies are done to see if the medicine is released completely from the tablet. Also, the time is taken for release. Both these factors are essential because when a tablet is swallowed, it stays in the stomach only for an hour. So if it has to release the medicine, it has to do it within one hour. Also, medicine shows its effects at a suitable dose and not sub-doses. So the tablet has to release the entire content within the said time. Hence dissolution studies are done by using analytical chemistry to test the release of drugs from a formulation.

It is also used as a part of medicinal chemistry for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Applications in agriculture:

It is used for 3 aspects in agriculture like in

  1. Soil testing: This is done to study the inorganic and organic minerals in the soil. This tells us how far the soil is suitable for the growth of a particular crop. It also gives an idea of the microbial environment, fertility, and pesticide residues in the soil.
  2. Water testing: Not all water is suitable for the growth of crops. Some of the water is very hard that it deposits lime on the fertile soil, making it unfit for further cultivation. By analytical chemistry, one can analyze the water for its constituents and make suitable changes to it.
  3. Harvested crop testing. Once the crop is harvested, the product is tested for its quality in terms of pesticide residues, any contaminants, etc. If the plant material has a high amount of pesticide or other waste, it is rejected for human use.

Importance of analytical chemistry in the environment:

Similarly, in environmental studies, it is widely used for the study of air condition (pollution), water, and soil contents in a particular locale.

In medical technology & research:

This is also a field that is highly reliant on analytical chemistry. In health care, it finds its use in diagnosis.

Simple tests like serum cholesterol, urine ketones, blood glucose level rely on analytical chemistry.

For example, blood glucose is estimated by many methods. But one of the common techniques is to convert the glucose into a colored substance in a beaker and analyze it by titration with a reacting mixture.

Similarly, serum cholesterol is centrifuged and then a coloring substance is added. The superficial layer having cholesterol is (which is already colored) is taken into a cuvette and quantified by spectrophotometry.

Thus we regularly use analytical chemistry and its principles for various diagnostic tests in health care.

So what are the methods used for the purpose?

There are many methods of analysis, but some of them are routinely used as they are inexpensive, less time taking, and versatile (suitable for many).

Some of the methods include titrations, especially acid-base, chromatography, spectroscopy, etc.

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