Talk:Chloroform

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Drinking water[edit]

Why is the presence of chloroform in small quatities in drinking water a good thing?

  • It isn't. Maybe you are confusing this with chlorine, which is added to drinking water supplies in many areas as a disinfectant. Physchim62 20:43, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

IUPAC Name[edit]

I altered the IUPAC name from Chloroform to Trichloromethane, which is the current correct nomenclature for organic compounds. Bochum 22:33, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Confusing sentence[edit]

In the United States, chloroform did not replace ether as an anesthetic until the beginning of the 20th century; however, its use was readily abandoned in favor of the latter upon discovery of its undesirable toxicological properties and its propensity to cause sudden, fatal cardiac arrhythmia in a manner analogous to what is now termed sudden sniffer's death.

This sentence could be better written. I assume it's trying to say that ether was abandoned in favor of chloroform upon discovery of ether's toxicological properties and propensity to cause cardiac arrhythmia. Is this right? If so, some of the occurrences of "its" should probably be clarified, and "latter" should be changed to "former". I'd change it myself, but I'm not sure what it's trying to say. —Bkell 19:21, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

  • Yes, the sentence is confusing, the proof is that you got it the wrong way round! Chloroform is more likely than ether to cause sudden death (some people are hypersensitive to CHCl3), which is why ether continued to be used as an anaesthetic dispite the fire risk. Will see what I can do, when I get hold of some verifiable sources. Physchim62 19:44, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • You'll find some debate among historians of medicine as to why it was the case, but in the UK and Germany (and possibly elsewhere in Europe; I don't know) chloroform dominated anaesthesia in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, while in the US, ether did. Chloroform certainly had its critics during this whole time, but the debate of which one was safer wasn't conclusively decided until the 1930s (the numbers were something like 1 in 5000 fatal complications for chloroform vs. 1 in 20,000 for ether), at which point, it was moot, since it was about this time that barbiturates came onto the scene. Shimmin 21:27, Jun 8, 2005 (UTC)
    • That's pretty much what I remember from university, although both figures for the mortality rate from this period seems a little low to me. We still need some sources on this, I'll see what I can do. Physchim62 21:14, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

another confusing sentence[edit]

  • In reality, a dose far greater than a several drops inhaled over a short period of time would be required to knock somebody out; such a dose could also be lethal.

do people really need more or less?

  • The way I see it the answer to your question is "more". The sentence indicates that a dose larger than a few drops would be required to render someone unconscious. It probably sounds confusing because the author tried to report in a single sentence that, in those TV series, both the dosage and the time required for CHCl3 to work are too low than required. Berserker79 07:23, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Edited for clarity and simplicity[edit]

I found the second paragraph ("In 1847 ...") to be very confusing. I edited the entire paragraph for clarity and simplicity. I tried to change nothing by way of reported facts.

It still bothers me that there's so much info here on ether in an article that's supposed to be about chloroform.

TH 03:11, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Should there be a mention in the "uses" section of the use of chloroform in science research to lyse bacteria cells when studying viruses which infect them? Or is that too trivial a use?Apple Rancher 17:29, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

If it's (a) a major use (this is done a lot) and (b) it's specific to chloroform (e.g., you don't have other labs routinely using dichloromethane or toluene), then I'd say yes. I think I added the bit about it being used in NMR; in this case it is a widely used technique, and probably over 80% (my guess) of samples use chloroform as the solvent. Walkerma 19:31, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Ozone layer[edit]

Does this compound itself deplete ozone or not? I can't find any information claiming either case. --Frank Lofaro Jr. 08:33, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

No, chloroform does not have a significant ozone depletion potential. Polonium 00:02, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Apparent Inconsistency[edit]

Its anaesthetic properties were noted early in 1847 by Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (1794-1867)and Robert James Fegle (1790-1842).

Its anaesthetic properties were noted in 1847 by a man who died in 1842? Can anyone clarify this? User:acdavis 20:50 24 June 2006


DISCOVERY OF CHLOROFORM AS AN ANAESTHETIC SELBY PG BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL 2 (4480): 753-753 1946

Was Chloroform Produced before 1831? Anesthesiology. 92(1):290, January 2000. Defalque, Ray J. M.D.; Wright, A. J. M.L.S.

From Out of the Primordial Soup: A Brief History of Anaesthesia The Internet Journal of Anesthesiology TM ISSN: 1092-406X Robert Hirst, MB ChB [1]

Can not acces all but the answere must be there! --Stone 11:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


Maybe the anaesthesia was so good he only looked dead...? Good question. There appears to be no mention of Robert James Fegle on the surface web other than this Wikipedia article. Added a citation needed tag until someone with access to specialized sources can sort this out. Femto 12:29, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


The short, tragic life of Robert M. Glover. Historical note Defalque, R. J.; Wright, A. J.; Anaesthesia. 59(4):394-400, April 2004. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Stone (talkcontribs) 14:10, 9 January 2007 (UTC).

dont really know how to do this, but the link to "harmful" in the right pannel links to a page about a german rock band, not the classification of the substance.

Possible Citation Found[edit]

Being a Wikipedia idiot, I'll let someone else take care of this. Searching for other info on this topic revealed a website http://www.general-anaesthesia.com/images/chloroform.htm that appears to be the origin for the first paragragh of this article.

They sources cited in the new edits are from the following sources

1.Chloroform. (2001, October). Human heath fact sheet. Retrieved March 13, 2007,

    from http://www.deq.state.id.us/inl_oversight/contamination/fact_sheets/
    chloroform.pdf 

2.Vinten-Johansen, P., Brody, H., Paneth, N., Rachman, S., & Rip, M. (2003).

    Chloroform. In Cholera, chloroform, and the science of Medicine; A life of
    John Snow (pp. 140-164). New York: Oxford University Press. 

3.Bowen, S. E., Batis, J. C., Paez-Martinez, N., & Cruz, S. L. (2006,

    November/December). The last decade of solvent research in animal models of
    abuse: Mechanistic and behavioral studies. Neurotoxicology and Teratology,
    28(6), 636-647. Retrieved March 13, 2007, from EBSCOhost database:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/
    science?_ob=ArticleListURL&_method=list&_ArticleListID=548933535&_sort=d&view=c&_
    acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=688a5549480493bc7793ad42d
    f4dc7ba 

4.Ksir, C., Hart, C. L., & Ray, O. (2006). Drugs, society, and human behavior

    (12th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 1972)
Yes, the first paragraph in the "History" section does appear to have been copied from the above website. I've commented out the paragraph until it can be rewritten. Fvasconcellos 00:36, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Vandalism[edit]

The page was vandalized to simply read "if she doesn't remember it, it's not date rape" or something like that. Unfortunately I'm a n00b and am not really sure what to do, but just giving you all the heads up. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 72.84.84.111 (talkcontribs).

Was fixed one minute after it was added. Try refresh your browser cache. Femto 12:56, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Popular culture[edit]

In this section it says to refer to chloroform's entry in fictional applications of real materials, however it has no entry there that I can see. Cyraan 20:55, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

The entry there was recently removed, I've restored it. Femto 15:43, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Seems to be missing again. It seems to me 90 percent of the people that come to this article want to hear the answer to "does one whiff of this really knock you out, and if so, why?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.73.70.113 (talk) 02:45, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Not only is it missing, the article was deleted. And all mention of the classic depiction of a villain putting chloroform on a handkerchief and knocking someone out with it is gone from the main article, too. The above sections of the talk page indicate that at one time there was at least a passing mention of what happens if you inhale chloroform, now deleted. I agree with you; the article should at least acknowledge the fact that chloroform is ubiquitously depicted in fiction with properties that (if I recall correctly from prior research) are incorrect, and why it is incorrect. Rifter0x0000 (talk) 15:02, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Chloroform exposure during showering[edit]

Have found source (+subsources) that support evidence of human exposure to chloroform from showering. Expert check?

Possible Sentence: Reaction of excess chlorine in drinking water from municipal chlorination with organic materials may form chloroform. Dermal absorption of chloroform from showering is possible.

Retrieved January 18 2009,
from Wallace, L.A. "Human Exposure to Volatile Organic Pollutants: Implications for Indoor Air Studies" Annu. Rev. Energy Environ." 2001 Annual Reviews. {{doi:10.1146/annurev.energy.26.1.269}} Freefighter (talk) 03:24, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Probable Incorrect Citation[edit]

This isn't my area of expertise, I am going on reasoning. Somebody with more expertise care to weigh in?

This is related to the statement in the article:

"Ether is still the preferred anesthetic in some developing nations due to its high therapeutic index (~1.5-2.2)[10] and low price."

The article on therapeutic index says the formula is:

Therapeutic Index = LD50/ED50

where LD50 is a measure of the lethal dose, and ED50 is a measure of the effective dose.

The issue is that a TI of 1.5-2.2 seems to me to be VERY low. This means that a dose of 1.5 times the necessary amount is likely to kill the patient. I would think that a high TI would me more like 10 or 100. The article even cites an example of diazepam having a low TI value of 2-3...

I don't have access to reference [10], so I can't verify. Anybody?

Cryomolecular (talk) 22:43, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Use by kidnappers[edit]

Why doesn't the article mention that kidnappers often use chloroform (in a handkerchief) to knock out their targets? --75.25.103.109 (talk) 22:59, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Please add reliable references to such statements. Materialscientist (talk) 23:06, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Not to cite the subjective word "often", but [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9] etc, etc google news has over 250 results containing just the words chloroform and knock out. Further searches might reveal further examples. This is an often used plot device across many TV shows/movies/books/etc. and that aspect definitely needs covered in this article.--Crossmr (talk) 13:03, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
Because they don't. Depending on how long the victim holds his/her breath and the amount of chloroform used it can take several minutes to knock someone out. On the other hand if you use too much you risk killing the victim. If anything this should be put under "References in popular culture" section. Real kidnappers typically use physical force or threats of physical violence. 80.216.20.83 (talk) 23:36, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
And you would know this because you apprenticed under a "real kidnapper?" Anyway, I agree it seems likely that a general audience might arrive at this article caring nothing about history or synthesis details and wanting only to learn "why they use chloroform" to knock people out. 66.27.85.228 (talk) 07:23, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
  • it is a fair question to ask and the article needs to address it even if only to state that only in Hollywood kidnappers use this method V8rik (talk) 19:30, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
    as I just provided above, there are tons of reliable sources discussing real kidnappers and criminals using chloroform to knock out or disorient their victims. This isn't limited only to Hollywood.--Crossmr (talk) 07:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Well I waited for further input and there was none. I've added a small section on it's use in crimes with citations.--Crossmr (talk) 15:21, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

To me, it is not notable to list a series of crimes, at least for a chemical. People have been poisoned with all sorts of chemicals. Been going on for centuries for many compounds. --Smokefoot (talk) 00:02, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Is it not a use of the compound? That section is for describing uses of the compound and using it to attack people in one form or another is a well documented long-term use and often used plot device in fiction. This is a well known and notable aspect of Chloroform. Whether the acts are criminal or otherwise, frequent uses of the compound can be documented. The list of crimes is simply to give context and evidence that this has in fact occurred and has been doing so for a long time. Now, whether or not we want to have a total list of crimes is one thing. The paragraph could perhaps be written in a different way, but the citations should remain as your removal of the citations left certain claims uncited, and instead a more general description of how the compound is used to daze, knock-out and kill people could be in order. But trying to pretend that Chloroform isn't used for this is preposterous. Verifiable cited usages of a compound aren't remotely unencyclopedic.--Crossmr (talk) 07:59, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

I read one of the news articles you linked to above, Crossmr, and the only mention of chloroform is "On the way there she was attacked. Rough arms pushed a handkerchief soaked in what she thinks was chloroform over her mouth and nose." Not a confirmed use of CHCl3 for kidnapping is it?

I searched the scientific literature (incl. forensics journals) and found a small number of papers about chloroform (besides those where it's used as a solvent in forensic analysis – obviously irrelevant to its use in crime):

So while the use of chloroform in crime seems to be unusual, and largely historical (i.e. back when chloroform still widely used as a clinical anaesthetic), it is still discussed in the literature.

Now editors need to decide whether this minor but verifiable use of chloroform is noteworthy enough to include in the article. Personally, I'd say one sentence is enough. Something along the lines of "Chloroform is occasionally encountered in forensic investigations: a handful of murders, suicides, and accidental deaths by CHCl3 are reported in the recent forensic literature.[REF: 2010 paper]"

Ben (talk) 11:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

It was nice of you to cherry pick the one example that I didn't actually use in the article. There is no ambiguity in the 3 citations I put in the article which all state Chloroform was used to both knock people out, daze them or murder them.and chloroform to knock out the teenage daughters of his friends while they were home alone., he placed a tissue soaked with chloroform over the face... Nothing ambiguous about that, and I never included a mention of kidnapping in what I added to the article. As far as being historical, the teen sexual assault was only 4 years ago, the murder in the 90s. Most recently it seems a mother is accused of using chloroform to kill her child [10]. The usage in fiction also brings the subject to more prominence as well as it routinely shows up as a plot device.--Crossmr (talk) 12:00, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Here is a story of a recent rapist in japan who used Chloroform [11], 2010 used as a school prank [12], Here it's mentioned as being intended to use for crime [13], [14], sorry but trying to bury this by claiming it's use "historical" just won't work here. Plenty of recent examples of use or intended use. As for a kidnapping, this one is behind a paywall [15], but the google preview gives us including mentions of chloroform and drugging the victim. [16] 2010 attack in Africa using chloroform. Those are just the examples I found off a few minutes searching news stories (and not fully or deeply) for the period of the last 13 months or so. If you want to bring notability into the discussion, I could bury a paragraph in citations to news articles showing extensive coverage of crimes both recent and historical showing it's usage.--Crossmr (talk) 12:16, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
The info that Crossmr added is essentially trivia, the kind that one reads in movie magazines. But trivia and tangential to the point of the article. I had contracted the story to a sentence, which acknowledged that this kind of trivial experience has occurred. What can you do? It's lurid pablum.--Smokefoot (talk) 12:44, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Were it something that happened once or twice, it may be trivia. This is far beyond the style of "Grunge Band X once mentioned chloroform in their hit single". This is the fact that Chloroform has been used in criminal attacks in one form or another for well over a hundred years. I didn't say the text couldn't be improved, but trying to pass this off as trivial and minor is absurd. The criminal use of this compound has gone on nearly as long as the compound has been around. It's frequently reported in the papers, and even some scholarly study has been done on it. A paragraph discussing that aspect of it, as well as mentioning the literary aspect of it, is hardly out of place with that kind of history.--Crossmr (talk) 12:58, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Crossmr: sorry, I just picked the article from a British newspaper I know to be reliable(-ish). There's no need to cite specific news articles when we can just cite a forensics paper that summarises it all, and is a more reliable source for such information. It's neater and better encyclopedia writing to summarise the issue in a sentence or two. There's not an awful lot to say: chloroform is occasionally used in crime, but is far less common than physical violence. There's a book on chloroform's medical and criminal uses if you want to borrow it from the library and summarise it here: ISBN 978-0-75-093099-4.

Ben (talk) 14:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes, sure. Physical violence is generally the most common kind, you could make the same argument about any other kind of attack being less common than physical violence. The point is, that it is a topic that has come up repeatedly for over a hundred years. Now, as to what could be written about it, information about types of attacks, (dazing, knocking-out, murder, suicide, or even recreational/addiction) might be included. If any research is done on application method. For example, one article talks about putting in a drink, in movies we often see it applied with a rag on a face. However, I've read some things indicating that that isn't terribly reliable because chloroform vaporizes quickly. Perhaps if there is any information on how many deaths result from intentional chloroform attacks. I have no idea if these things have been discussed, just brain storming a few ideas that might provide useful and contextual information about this aspect of it's use. I still feel that the fictional aspect can't be ignored, so I'm hoping with a little poking around I'll find someone who has actually done a useful article on comparing the fictional use to reality. For now, I'd be happy with a clear summary that would at least note the various types of crimes that have occurred and if possible the fact that it's still used in crimes all around the world. You tried to pass it off as historic, but very quickly I found tons of noteworthy stories covered in many papers about recent uses of the compound in crimes. So despite it's age, it still seems to be used, perhaps due to the fictional component. Now, that's not a theory I want to put in the article it's obviously original research, but the actual reason for it's continued use is irrelevant to my point. My point is that there is enough coverage in various reliable sources to indicate that this is an aspect of the subject that would generate interest. To what degree we can cover that depends highly on the sources themselves.--Crossmr (talk) 14:52, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

I think you might be a little biased towards including too much. Just as most Wikichemists, me included, are biased towards removing content that's not about chemistry. We need a bit of consensus and perspective here. Ask Wikipedia:WikiProject Crime and Criminal Biography for input.

Ben (talk) 15:28, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Based on what exactly? Do you deny that these stories are legitimate, that the scholarly articles exist on the subject, or that we could probably cite uncountable fictional sources that use chloroform as a plot device? I'm simply a guy who came across this discussion, and found a few sources. What bias do you perceive that I have? It's unfortunate, I suppose from a chemist's point of view, that chloroform isn't more famous for other reasons, but I would suspect for the general public its primary notability comes from fiction, and that fictional use has a basis in reality. Most people alive today are too young to have had it used medically. Our articles are written for the general public, not only for other chemists who may not care that Chloroform has a long-term history of being used to attack people.--Crossmr (talk) 22:38, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I indeed deny that these contributions are legitimate to the extent they are reported, WP:UNDUE. I previously pointed out WP:NOTNEWS. The topic merits a sentence. But its easy stuff to write about, so why not - makes editors feel validated.--Smokefoot (talk) 22:46, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
You seem to have a gross misunderstanding of WP:NOTNEWS. Not news specifically relates to article level notability for single events. It's tied into WP:BLP1E. These are repeated uses over a hundred years, covered in many sources, many times. The section you're incorrectly citing states Wikipedia articles should not be... While news coverage can be useful source material for encyclopedic topics, most newsworthy events do not qualify for inclusion. this is referring to inclusion at an article level, not individual pieces of information in an article itself. And the page even says that news article can be a useful source of information which is how they're used here. I'm certainly not trying to create an article about the guy who used chloroform to rob a couple of people. The NOTNEWS section also links directly to notability which states On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a topic can have its own article. It could not be any clearer that NOTNEWS is talking about article topics and not individual pieces of information and at this point you're wandering into WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT territory. The most relevant part of UNDE that you also cite is this: An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. For example, discussion of isolated events, criticisms, or news reports about a subject may be verifiable and neutral, but still be disproportionate to their overall significance to the article topic. This is a concern especially in relation to recent events that may be in the news. This is an argument that is often brought up when there is a high profile story about a subject which generates tons of press. This is not the case with Chloroform and the criminal activity and reporting on it as well as fictional usage has been going on for nearly as long as the compound has been around. As I said, it's unfortunate from a chemist's viewpoint that chloroform probably isn't more well known for other reasons. But you're sticking your head in the sand if you think the real life criminal stories and fictional uses are trivial to the notability of chloroform. Significant doesn't necessarily translate to 'legitimate' or 'legal' or 'science only'. If chloroform were only ever used once to kill someone, it would certainly be trivial information. But the fact that scholarly research has been done on it this aspect of it, tells us that it's moved beyond trivial.--Crossmr (talk) 23:42, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

You've lost me now. You care way too much about this and are clearly angry. If you're just a passer-by, you won't mind what happens either way. We've all dragged ourselves into this long debate. I quit. Ben (talk) 08:37, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm not remotely angry. About the only thing that would bother me here is the couple of sniping insults that Smokefoot has tossed out. My apologies if any response I've made to you seems angry. I did ask for input at the crime project as you suggested, and I did agree that a summary could be better put in place as you suggested. I just want to ensure it's properly sourced, and then I further commented on what I thought could be avenues of investigation in terms of what more could be written on the subject. I don't think criminal use is the be all and end-all of chloroform, I just think people are fooling themselves if they want to believe that a lot of chloroform's notability doesn't come from it's use as a plot device.--Crossmr (talk) 08:48, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't mean to dredge up too many annoyances from the past, but I'd like to ask whether the use in fiction should have a sentence at the end of the paragraph under discussion here. The context is that the fictional use characterizes chloroform as a simple, fast knock-out drug, which produces essentially no lasting consequences. I generally agree that there should be some representation of its use in crime, but care should be exercised in ensuring that it is not characterized as commonly used. All but two incidents described by these sources mention "intent" to use it, or a description by the victim or reporter as being thought of as or "probably" chloroform. The mention of Joseph Harris is based upon one such article - the only mention of chloroform is the title of the article (editorial or sensational embellishment), while the victim claimed the use of "some kind of drug." Of the remaining two incidents, one resulted in death of the victim, and the other involved the apparent additional use of a stun-gun - a device specifically designed to incapacitate a target. The most applicable example to the fictional representation is the case of Chien-Tai Wu, who was mentioned as additionally using a stun gun in the commission of his crime - there is no mention of whether the chloroform actually produced unconsciousness in the victim(s). A summary of my thoughts would be that there are no sources specified here that show successful use of chloroform alone as an inhalant to bring unconsciousness without death following. This is completely inconsistent with the commonly-recognized fictional representation of its use. TL;DR: use in fiction should be mentioned, additional use of stun gun in one crime should be added. I propose the following changes to the article:

Chloroform has been used by criminals to knock-out, daze or even murder their victims, though in a manner inconsistent with its fictional representation. Joseph Harris was charged with using theft in 1894 and may have used chloroform.[20] Chloroform was used to murder a woman in 1991 as a toxic dose was delivered while she was sleeping.[21] In 2007 a man was convicted of using chloroform, in combination with a stun gun, to sexually assault minors.[22][23]
Brettpeirce (talk) 15:53, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Well, I'm just a "passerby", but I came here looking for whether chloroform actually works like it does in the movies. I find it a bit strange that nothing is mentioned about it, even if the information is here on the talk page (and also on the Swedish wiki page). 213.65.196.229 (talk) 20:28, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

History[edit]

Shouldn't the link for 'chlorinated lime' in the History section be to the actual compound, calcium hypochlorite, rather than to lime and a description of organic chlorination reactions? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 27.252.65.179 (talk) 05:10, 5 November 2016 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Chloroform/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 22:01, 2 March 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 11:35, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

When I'm impressed with wikipedia[edit]

Is when you can read an article about a subject, and read about someone who likely discovered it by accident, even though they didn't know they'd discovered it. I'm talking about the section on the history, that's just an impressive depth of research in my opinion! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.144.58.1 (talk) 15:52, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

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