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Words which belong together

To make connections between sentences words do not have to be exact synonyms. Sometimes a writer will use words which belong together. For example the word book suggests other words in the mind of the reader, like paperback, page, library, title or author. Careful use of meaning connections can give the reader the sense that the paragraph is well-organised without being repetitive.

Look at the first paragraph again. Note that the topic sentence begins with polychlorinated biphenyls and there are a number of synonyms or near synonyms in the paragraph. These are (PCBs) PCBs, organochloride chemicals, and DDT.

We also have a number of words which belong together with PCBs, including compounds, the environment, ability to resist chemical and physical breakdown, food chain, organisms higher up the food chain, higher levels, contamination.

Paragraph 1

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) comprise a group of 209 individual compounds which were produced commercially in large quantities up to the late 1970s (Muller, 1997). They were used in products as diverse as electrical equipment, lubricants, paints, plasticisers, carbonless copy paper and slide mounting for microscope slides. PCBs are among a broader group of organochloride chemicals, similar to the notorious DDT, which persist in the environment due to their ability to resist chemical and physical breakdown. They also accumulate up the food chain, with those organisms higher up the food chain typically demonstrating higher levels where contamination has occurred.

Making connections with verbs

Meaning connections can be used with verbs as well as nouns. Look at the verb phrase persist in the environment. You'll notice that it creates associations with polychlorinated biphenyls. Can you see any other phrases which convey similar meanings?

Paragraph 1

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) comprise a group of 209 individual compounds which were produced commercially in large quantities up to the late 1970s (Muller, 1997). They were used in products as diverse as electrical equipment, lubricants, paints, plasticisers, carbonless copy paper and slide mounting for microscope slides. PCBs are among a broader group of organochloride chemicals, similar to the notorious DDT, which persist in the environment due to their ability to resist chemical and physical breakdown. They also accumulate up the food chain, with those organisms higher up the food chain typically demonstrating higher levels where contamination has occurred.

Did you find these: resist chemical and physical breakdown, accumulate up the food chain?

Now look for phrases in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 which create associations with polychlorinated biphenyls.

PCBs are fat soluble and accumulate in fat where they persist for many years after exposure has ceased. Negative health effects of exposure to these chemicals have been observed in both humans and other animals, and include carcinogenic, immunotoxic, reproductive and developmental effects.

Prior to the banning of the chemicals by the American Federal Government in the late 1970s, PCBs were discharged into waterways around the USA. As more health risks have been associated with PCBs, scientists have become increasingly concerned with the concentrations seen in fish, which have the potential to accumulate up the food chain to humans.

Modelling the concentrations and ages of sample fish will allow scientists to predict the effects PCBs will have in the future. The most accurate model for the degradation of PCBs is required to ensure the accuracy of any predictions, and is of the utmost importance when dealing with such potentially dangerous chemicals.

Tick the phrases which create associations with polychlorinated biphenyls in the paragraphs above. There may be more than one correct answer. Click the check answers button when you have finished.

1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

Correct! All of the options given are ways of referring to polychlorinated biphenyls.

PCBs are fat soluble and accumulate in fat where they persist for many years after exposure has ceased. Negative health effects of exposure to these chemicals have been observed in both humans and other animals, and include carcinogenic, immunotoxic, reproductive and developmental effects.

Prior to the banning of the chemicals by the American Federal Government in the late 1970s, PCBs were discharged into waterways around the USA. As more health risks have been associated with PCBs, scientists have become increasingly concerned with the concentrations seen in fish, which have the potential to accumulate up the food chain to humans.

Modelling the concentrations and ages of sample fish will allow scientists to predict the effects PCBs will have in the future. The most accurate model for the degradation of PCBs is required to ensure the accuracy of any predictions, and is of the utmost importance when dealing with such potentially dangerous chemicals.

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