China Research


Hurry up and wait (Battling Technology)

So what do you do when all of your samples are ready to go but there is no carrier gas or a functioning machine to begin analysis??? You wait! Last Wednesday afternoon I had my TOC (total organic carbon) samples ready for analysis but the machines were not; no gasses. So I waited until Thursday when the gasses came, the gasses were now ready but the machine was broken! It appears there was a block stopping the gas from flowing through the TOC analyzer; without a technician present we were stuck for another day. We tried another machine at what is called the old campus but that was also broken. Friday brought more disappointment as no TOC samples were tested. I was able to begin testing my THM and HAA extractions on Monday using a GC System analyzer. Both the HAA and THM samples will take a little over a day to analyze so more patience required there. With the machines already very tightly scheduled Elsie and I were beginning to worry my samples would not be tested. Monday brought some success and by late afternoon our TOC analyzer was ready to go. We prepped the machine and began analysis by about 5:00pm. I came back to the lab later that night and utilized the TOC values to calculate a percentage of Chlorine to put into an elutriate sample for another test. Once I finished calculations and the experiment it was near 10:00pm. I will again wait for four days for the reaction to take place. ┬áThese past days have taught me patience with technology; I have a habit of becoming violent with machines that do not work yet I find myself just getting used to the idea that experiments never go according to plan. I have spent a good amount of my time familiarizing myself with the materials I have been given; studying the different affect THMs and HAAs have on the environment and also how their precursors can be identified early to predict harmful levels in Hong Kong’s drinking water.