Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chemophobia Watch: Iodomethane and you

I was looking for a picture of a chemist for a post on the ridiculous A-Rod/baseball/blame it all on "the chemists" trope when I ran across this picture and this ridiculous text:

"Methyl iodide is widely used in chemical synthesis because of its extraordinary ability to react with electron-rich molecules. Specifically, it reacts readily with biomolecules like DNA, the genetic material in cells, in a process that alters the structure of DNA, causing mutations. Synthetic chemists treat this chemical with great respect, handling it only in a hood under an inert atmosphere and using specially sealed bottles and syringes for transfer to ensure that none of this highly toxic chemical escapes. The proposed release of massive amounts of this chemical into the environment is contrary to safe chemical management practices."

Yes, iodomethane is commonly used and yes, it can methylate your DNA -- that's bad. But no, sadly, chemists don't really treat this compound with very much respect. Most of the time, MeI is kept in a big-ass bottle in the fridge (stored over copper beads, of course) and syringed out casually. Look, even your stupid picture shows your chemist (who clamps her tiny Sure-Seal bottle like a complete ninny) not in an inert atmosphere and with the hood sash raised to the point where it ain't workin' none. I'll bet some of this intensely deadly chemical is escaping out into the atmosphere! Oh noes! God, it makes me crazy when people resort to chemical scare tactics.

Even better, a quick check of the Aldrich* catalog shows that the only Sure-Seal MeI that Aldrich sells is a 2.0M solution of MeI in MTBE. That isn't used to keep the MeI in -- it's to make sure that the MTBE doesn't evaporate! Oh! Pesticide Action Network -- you've been pwned!

Look, MeI needs to be treated with respect and most chemists could use a refresher in its MSDS. But really, this sort of stuff is stupid. Methyl iodide needs to be evaluated as a pesticide on its own merits, not on chemophobia scare tactics.

UPDATED: Added MSDS above. 

1 comment:

  1. Amen! 50+ National Academy Members have protested the use of methyl iodide as a soil fumigant in the largest display of Chemophobia ever!


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