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Tip: The importance of climate change (in your lab!)

It’s winter and it’s cold. But it needn’t be in your lab. Having well maintained heating and cooling systems in your lab is necessary to keep the temperature as close to 20˚C as possible. This not only makes for a comfortable and safer working environment, it can be critical in achieving accurate results.

Here are just a few examples of procedures that could suffer from chilly lab conditions:

Enzymatic Analysis
Enzymes catalyse reactions much better at warmer temperatures. The colder the assay, the longer the incubation times required to complete the reaction.
 
pH
The pH of buffers and samples are temperature dependent and although correction factors can be applied, for best accuracy it is recommended the buffers and samples should all be analysed at the same temperature. This won’t be the case if the lab is not temperature controlled throughout the day.

Hydrometry
Modern hydrometers are calibrated at 20˚C. If the solution is a lower temperature, then approximate correction factors need to be applied which can introduce greater uncertainty in the result.

Sulfur Dioxide
Even the straightforward aspiration method for determining Free SO2 can be impacted by low temperatures. The colder the sample, the slower the SO2 is aspirated from it. You may not be achieving full recovery without extending your aspiration time.

Reagent Preparation
Most volumetric glassware is calibrated at 20˚C. Volume changes with temperature, so if your solution filled to the line in a 100mL volumetric flask isn’t at 20˚C, then it’s not exactly 100mL.