misty_lakeThe average person consumes approximately 58 gallons of water every year. It is essential that we have regulations in place to ensure that our water is safe to drink. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are human-made contaminants used and produced in the processing of, or as, paints, adhesives, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. Many of these compounds contaminate our environment today and cause negative health effects to humans when they are exposed to elevated levels. The testing of environmental samples for the presence of VOCs, including wastewater, drinking water, and soil, is essential to ensure the public is safe and our environment is protected and preserved.

Analytical environmental testing laboratories face several challenges when performing the analysis of VOCs. Paramount is meeting all regulation criteria mandated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Failure to meet one aspect of regulation can lead to entire sample batches failing. Laboratories must maintain sample throughput to ensure important results are not delayed by instrument downtime, reanalysis of samples, or ambiguous results. Additionally, the pressure to reduce costs force laboratories to consider systems that are simple to implement, require minimum maintenance, and are easy for the workforce to operate.

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This application note covers EPA 524.2 one of the most common methods performed in water testing laboratories. The method can be downloaded here, and fully implemented into any laboratory. The technique used for this method utilizes the Teledyne Tekmar Atomx XYZ Purge & Trap (P&T) coupled with the and the Thermo Scientific ISQ 7000 GC-MS system and the Thermo Scientific TRACE 1310 Gas Chromatograph. The Atomx XYZ has an efficient trap-cooling design for increased sample capacity and moisture control which reduces peak interference and increases consumable life span. The ISQ 7000 VPI removes the daily challenges of environmental laboratories by demonstrating sensitivity that exceeds regulatory requirements. The system can also be run continuously with little user intervention due to the inherent robustness and, when maintenance is required, downtime is eliminated due to the vent-free source and column exchange. A webinar discussing how to overcome the challenges of  VOCs analysis can be watched on-demand here.