Emerging contaminants, emerging methods: Water analysis moves up a gear

Researchers at Imperial College London speed up ppt-level monitoring of little-understood water-borne chemicals using Shimadzu LCMS - Interview with Dr Leon Barron and Dr Helena Rapp-Wright

The issue of environmental pollutants has recently been in the spotlight, and is set to receive more attention as the hazards that some chemicals pose to human and environmental health become clearer. We talk to Dr Leon Barron and Dr Helena Rapp Wright at Imperial College London about how they’re using Shimadzu’s LCMS-8060 and LCMS-9030 to conduct large-scale, rapid analyses of wastewater and river water, and how the insights they gain are contributing to a better understanding of the thousands of unregulated chemicals about which little is known – so-called ‘emerging chemical contaminants’.

Dr Leon Barron, Reader in Analytical & Environmental Sciences, MRC Centre for Environment & Health, Environmental Research Group, Imperial College London

“Using the equipment we’ve got, we’re looking to chemically profile water in unprecedented detail – including not just regulated chemicals on target lists, but to get a handle on everything that’s in the water, especially unregulated chemicals and those we know very little about”

“To achieve our research goals, we need sensitivity, robustness, and speed. And what’s great for us is that our LCMS-8060 and LCMS-9030 systems do brilliantly on all three”. Currently we’re looking at about 1200 compounds – and in a run time of about 17 minutes!”.


Dr Helena Rapp Wright, Research Associate, Environmental Research Group, Imperial College London

We have so much data to get through, it could easily be the limiting step in analytical throughput. But the Shimadzu software really streamlines everything – the graphs are easy to understand, and tell you exactly what you need to know. And as for the data explorer, I love the flagging system used in the library: I can set a signal-to-noise level at a particular threshold value, and the color-coding lets me know immediately if any samples don’t meet the detection criteria”. 

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