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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 1-3

Accidental Poison: Analysis of 1,4-Butanediol in a Popular Children’s Arts and Crafts Toy

Christopher R. Dockery*,†, John H. Shugart, Jonathan D. Parker, William J. Lawson, Amber Monis, Chris Maselka, Joycelynn Foster,Ernestas Gricius, and Paige Colasurd

†Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Kennesaw State University, 370 Paulding Ave #1203, Kennesaw, Georgia, 30144,; ‡Department of Science, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, 2802 Moore Highway, Tifton, Georgia, 31793
Received December 1, 2014. Accepted December 17, 2014.

Published: 16 January 2015

Abstract. A popular children's arts and crafts toy made international headlines when it was discovered that 1,4-butanediol had been substituted into some of its formulations. The chemical 1,4-butanediol rapidly converts to the date-rape drug g-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) upon ingestion and resulted in the accidental poisoning of some children. In this experiment, students extract 1,4-butanediol from commercially available toy beads (or prepared simulations) using their knowledge of pharmaceutical chemistry, solubility, etc. Using case studies available in the literature, students develop a quantitative analysis experiment for 1,4-butanediol extracted from the toy beads and, through approximation, relate the extractable amount of 1,4-butanediol to dose-response data for GHB. In this way, student learning is linked to current events, making routine analyses relevant and engaging.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; quantitative analysis

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Supporting Materials:

One supporting file is available. An example student laboratory report (160 KB).

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