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When tin organ pipes began to show some gray powder "growths," during the 19th century, some people believed it was the devil's doing. At that time, people were unaware that tin exists in two forms: silvery-white above 13.2°C and gray below 13.2° C. The organ pipes simply showed signs of the slow conversion of tin from one form to the other.
This soft, pliable metal is often employed in ornamental objects and in alloys for solders. Electro-plating is a key application of tin. "Tin cans" are made of steel plated with tin. Various organic compounds containing tin are also used commercially as fungicides and insecticides, and occasionally, as wood, textile and paper preservatives.
Although tin is an essential element for some species, including humans, this is not the case for marine life. Even low levels of tin compounds can be deadly to marine species such as oysters. At the National Research Council Canada (NRC), the Institute for National Measurement Standards is equipped with highly sensitive analytical instruments to detect the numerous toxic metals present in sediments, water, and even biological tissue. With NRC's calibration standards, we hope to control the quality and safety of our environment and support regulatory issues.