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December 16, 2010

Atomic weights of several elements to be revised

Atomic weights of several elements to be revisedAs a result of a recent study, the Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has published a list of revised atomic-weight ranges for several elements –among them hydrogen, lithium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. The update is meant to better reflect how the elements vary in the natural world. The study was carried out by a team led by Michael E. Wieser of the University of Calgary (Canada), who is secretary of the Commission on Isotopic Abundances and Weights for IUPAC. The revisions are outlined in the journal Pure and Applied Chemistry and a companion article in Chemistry International.

To start with, an international group of scientists will restate the weights of ten elements, citing them as an upper and a lower limit (the interval varies depending on where the elements are found in nature). This fundamental change in the presentation of the atomic weights is based upon work between 1985 and 2010 supported by IUPAC and other contributing Commission members and institutions. IUPAC will feature the change in the standard atomic weights table as part of the activities associated with the International Year of Chemistry (IYC).

Kira Welter

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