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Chemical analysis

Testing drinking water for pollutantsTesting drinking water for pollutants Chemical analysis is the study of the chemical composition and structure of substances. It is split into two areas. Qualitative analysis aims to discover the elements or compounds in a sample of unknown material. Quantitative analysis aims to find out the amount of each element or compound in the sample. In order to analyse a sample, first scientists often have to split it into its separate “ingredients”, using techniques such as chromatography or distillation. Then they work out the composition of the sample using chemical tests or instruments such as spectroscopes and mass spectrometers. 

Uses of chemical analysis

Archaeologist tests an ancient clay tabletArchaeologist tests an ancient clay tabletChemical analysis is central to forensics, in which tests are used to detect crime. In the pharmaceutical industry, chemical analysis helps with the development of drugs and the study of their effects. In medical testing, analysis is used to check samples such as blood or urine for signs of infection. Environmental testing uses analysis to measure pollutants in the atmosphere, water or soil. Chemical analysts may also work in materials development, testing metal alloys, ceramics and polymers, in archaeology, to find out about the materials used in the past, and in space exploration, identifying rock samples from Mars, moons, asteroids or comets.

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