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The simple electrode device machine can tell you immediately if that suspicious bottled material over your dad’s wardrobe is actually Thiodane (Fiatana). Fiatana is one of the world’s most dangerous chemicals, so we want to identify, quantify and built data on it for our country so as to bring awareness to the community for their welfare.

The electrode device is being developed by Mr Mpakanyane Teboho, a Master of Science student (Inorganic Chemistry) at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology.

Hooooray! Fiatana, the chemical that used to contribute to people‘s death without messy in Lesotho is gone! In most countries in the world, you can no longer produce or use Fiatana to kill insects for agricultural purpose. In Lesotho, this bad chemical was a weapon of choice for those who wanted to take their own lives. However, whether you knew it or not, the chemical might have been creating too many health problems for you as well.

“However, although most of the world has banned the use of Fiatana, some people in many countries are still producing, using and selling it,” said Mr Mpakanyane who is under the supervision of Professor ‘Mantoa Sekota in this project. Also, it was banned only 10 years ago, “so, not only may we still have some packages of it in our homes, Fiatana is still having a good time in our environment because where it is being used, it stays—for a long time. In fact, some of it might be still trapped in the soil, ground water, surface water bodies or even some tissues in your body.”

Is it possible that this internationally scorned chemical might still be crossing our borders because our present means to identify it are not so straightforward? According to Mpakanyane, “that is exactly what we want to know.”

So this electrode device is meant to help identify the monstrous chemical in a very easy simple and cheap way so that we can know where it is or who still uses it. There are existing means to identify it, with high sensitivity and high accuracy, but they are time-consuming, very expensive, hard to maintain and can only be done by experts.

However, what is Fiatana (Thiodane)?

Scientists, those folks who like to complicate otherwise simple things, call it by a fancy name, Endosulfan. Now, never mind the following description as they complicate it further, “Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide and acaricide.”

In that fancy description, forget about the words organochlorine and acaricide. Who cares what, on earth, they mean? Rather, focus on the word insecticide. Insecticide is a substance that kills insects. The problem with Fiatana is that it is not only dangerous to insects, it is known to cause a host of various diseases in humans including birth defects, and in fact it is also suspected to have a capacity to cause cancer.

So where does Mpakanyane’s electrode device come in?

“Although the final aim is to test Fiatana, we are actually developing an electrode that will only test Fiaitana’s sister, a chemical called Chlorothalonil. Just as you and your sister share a lot of genes, and looks as well, Fiatana and Chlorophalonil have a lot in common. In fact, a number of insecticides that you still use in your garden or fields today contains Chlorothalonil.

This guy, Chlorothalonil, is not as bad as his more dangerous sibling, Fiatana, at least according to what we know at the moment. Of course, most siblings are not born identical twins. Even for identical twins, some become more troublesome than others.

“There are two reasons for starting by testing Chlorothalonil. First, since Fiatana is burned already, it is already hard to come by. Second, since the two belong to the same family, when our machine is able to identify Chlorophalonil, it will so easily identify Fiatana.”

So how does this device machine work?

“The idea is to use electrodes to test the content of Chlorothalonil in anything,” he said.

This is how you do it. You have to know a thing or two about the structure of Chlorothalonil. When dissolved in super-pure water, and when you pass electricity through that solution, some electrons will move away from Chlorothalonil molecules.

First, we know that those electrons will only be released from the Chlorothalonil molecules if the electricity passing through the solution has a specific power (potential). That power is controlled by the computer. No other compound, which is not Chlorothalonil can release electrons at that power. So if no electrons are released at all at that power, we know there is no Chlorothalonil in the solution.

If electrons are released, the electrode can detect that and record it on the computer. We know Chlorothalonil is there. The question now becomes, how much of it is there? The electrode is not only able to detect the presence of released electrons; it is also able to find how much of them are being released from the Chlorothalonil. The more electrons are being released, means the higher the amount of Chlorothalonil in the solution.

“With that in mind, we are creating a device in which we can place any substance into a proper solution and test if Chlorothalonil is there and how much of it is there, to the smallest concentration possible,” he ended.

Once that is done, Fiatana will be tested in much the same manner.

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