chromatography water testing applicationsEnvironmental sample analysis can be challenging since it requires both sensitive detection and the removal of any matrix interferences. Ion chromatography is the preferred separation technique for ionic species including inorganic anions/cations, small amines and organic acids, peptides and proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates. The increasing demand for sensitivity leads to the emergence of a mass spectrometer (MS) with enhanced transmission efficiency for low mass ions as a powerful complementary detector to conductivity, UV and electrochemical detection.

Ion chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry detection (IC-MS) is an ideal solution for critical ionic contaminants in environmental samples. The specificity and selectivity of ion-exchange has a greater resolving power for ionic contaminants than reversed phase separations which do not take advantage of anion- or cation-exchange selectivity. Direct coupling of ion chromatography with mass spectrometry is possible with reagent-free ion chromatography (RFIC) which combines automated eluent generators and electrolytically regenerated suppressors to electrolytically create the required eluents and regenerants used for ion chromatography applications. Inline desalting by electrolytic suppressors converts the mass spectrometer-incompatible hydroxide mobile phase (eluent) to pure water, thereby making the flow from the ion chromatography compatible with the mass spectrometer.

Here, I am pleased to present a mini application notebook, titled,IC-MS Environmental Applications (downloadable PDF), which features how the benefits of coupling RFIC with MS detection overcome the above challenges of environmental sample analysis. The notebook features five applications using our ion chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex Reagent-Free Ion Chromatography (RFIC) systems) and anion-exchange columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac columns) for separation of the following analytes:

  • Acrylamide in Water
  • Trace Urea in Ultrapure Water
  • Common Cations and Amines
  • Common Anions and Organic Acids
  • Endothall in Water Samples

These columns have higher capacity and selectivity to resolve trace analytes in very challenging matrices. For example, a high column capacity allows the separation of trace contaminants in the presence of high amounts of interfering anions. Here is a handy Ion Chromatography Column Selection Guide, (downloadable PDF), that you can also download for quick reference.

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Mass spectrometry detection is accomplished using a single quadrupole mass spectrometer (Thermo Scientific MSQ Plus Single Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer.)

Additional Resources

  • Our Chromatography Solution Online Center features many useful and complimentary chromatography tools which can help speed up your analysis. The site is updated on a monthly basis; therefore, do check out the Archives section to see what was previously featured.

If you have questions on the applications or the technique, do enter them in the Comments box below; I look forward to hearing from you.

Monika Verma is a marketing specialist with a focus on Ion Chromatography applications in the Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Division at Thermo Fisher Scientific. As a former technical sales specialist, Monika has broad customer application exposure for molecular biology reagents and chromatography instruments. Her focus is conducting formal Ion Chromatography voice-of-customer studies and performing market trends/competitive landscape analysis.Monika received her B.S. Biological Sciences from the University of Pacific and an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University.