Chemistry and Biochemistry
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.
The Chemical Educator
Dockery, Christopher R.; Shugart, John H.; Parker, Jonathan D.; and Lawson, William J., "Accidental Poison: Analysis of 1,4-Butanediol in a Popular Children's Arts and Crafts Toy" (2015). Faculty Publications. 3701.