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Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is a polyamino carboxylic acid and a colourless, water-soluble solid. Its conjugate base is named ethylenediaminetetraacetate. It is widely used to dissolve scale. Its usefulness arises because of its role as a hexadentate ligand and chelating agent, i.e. its ability to "sequester" metal ions such as Ca2+ and Fe3+. In the textile industry, it prevents metal ion impurities from modifying colours of dyed products. In the pulp and paper industry, EDTA inhibits the ability of metal ions, especially Mn2+, from catalyzing the disproportionation of hydrogen peroxide, which is used in "chlorine-free bleaching." In similar manner, EDTA is added to some food as a preservative or stabilizer to prevent catalytic oxidative decolouration, which is catalyzed by metal ions. In personal care products, it is added to cosmetics to improve their stability toward air. It is used to bind metal ions in the alternative medical practice of chelation therapy, e.g., for mercury and lead poisoning. It is used in a similar manner to remove excess iron from the body. In the laboratory, EDTA is widely used for scavenging metal ions. In biochemistry and molecular biology, ion depletion is commonly used to deactivate metal-dependent enzymes, either as an assay for their reactivity or to suppress damage to DNA or proteins. In analytical chemistry, EDTA is used in complexometric titrations and analysis of water hardness or as a masking agent to sequester metal ions that would interfere with the analyses.

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