When I say environmental analysis I mean ways that we can help make the worldcleaner. For me the work we do on environmental methods has an impact on the environment for my children. I think of them when we work out new methods on GC-MS instrumentation. Water is one of the most important resources. In the US this is covered by the EPA, in Canada by Ministry of the Environment, in EU by European Commission – Environment with Water Framework Directive, in China by SEPA. I want laboratories to be able to test environmental samples, in this case water, to low levels with great reproducibility. Analyzing at lower levels reproducibly means the lab has an advantage in extractions (less time) or even sample collection and shipping (less cost). A lab should be able to run many samples in a row so that large amounts of work can get done before any maintenance is needed. When maintenance is done (because let’s face it, you will need to do maintenance at some point) it should be easy and quick.
In these two applications we explore the use of ISQ GC-MS single quadrupole analyzing water. The first is a volatile analysis of drinking water. The levels reached are low ppt, parts per trillion, for some of the compounds. It takes advantage of alternating full scan SIM to provide low level target analysis with full scan available for library searching unknowns. The California Department of Public Health published new notification levels for a list of compounds including 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) at 0.005 μg/L. Uses for these volatile compounds includes paint and varnish remover, cleaning and degreasing agent, a cleaning and maintenance solvent, and more currently as a chemical intermediate. Its use as a pesticide was in formulations with dichloropropenes in the manufacture of D-D, a soil fumigant. The second application is semi-volatile analysis method allows the operator and lab to reach lower levels with better reproducibility with decreased amount of time on maintenance. These compound classes cover PAHs, phenolic compounds, anilines, pesticides, and phthalates. As contaminants these compounds find their way into water, soil, and solid wastes.
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These applications are not ground breaking; they are not some new way of doing things that takes a lot of training and effort. They are simply methods to easily set up in the environmental lab and continuously run samples, saving time and money. These methods provide parameters that are a good place to start developing specific methods for your laboratory so that we can find these chemicals in the environment and clean them up.