Science-Industry Team to Identify, Measure Contaminants

A team of scientists representing academia and industry are collaborating to improve the identification of contaminants in drinking water. Scientists at Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla are working with Applied Biosystems, an Applera Corp. business, and its joint-venture partner, MDS Analytical Technologies, a business unit of MDS Inc. to develop and validate new methods through which municipalities and treatment centers can detect a wider range of harmful chemicals.

This project is responding to the increasing prevalence of contaminated drinking water.

Efforts to monitor contaminants are under way in many municipalities and water treatment centers; however, the lack of analysis and validated methods to identify hard-to-detect contaminants, such as disinfectant byproducts, cyanobacterial toxins, and degraded pesticides, is further hampering testing.

The team will analyze reservoir water with mass spectrometry. Researchers will use the industry partners' mass spectrometry systems to develop new software-based methods that are expected to expand the range of contaminants that can be screened in repeatable, systematic ways.

The analysis and method development will take place on the Rolla, Mo., campus. The university scientists will validate the methods to save time and expense for other water testing laboratories, which will be able to access these methods through a pre-configured software application that will be marketed by Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies. These methods will be optimized for use on the company's mass spectrometry instrument systems.

Craig Adams, Ph.D., director of the Environmental Research Center, and Yinfa Ma, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, at the university are leading the collaborative project with the joint venture.

"Missouri S&T welcomes the opportunity to work with Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies to develop the critical methods needed for water contaminant testing," said Adams.

For this project, the scientific team is employing a complete mass spectrometry workflow from Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies that incorporates the 4000 QTRAP® system, which is a specialized mass spectrometer that integrates quantitative and qualitative analysis by combining triple quadrupole and linear ion-trap capabilities.

The software that will host the new methods is Cliquid® software, which is an application that simplifies the operation of tandem liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The new methods will build on the integrated functionality of the software by providing guidelines on the instrument parameters to identify and quantify contaminants.

"Authorities responsible for the water we drink generally recognize the need to better identify contaminants, but they are running up against limitations, such as which compounds to test for, and what technology and methods to use," said Andre Schreiber, Ph.D., the Applied Biosystems project leader. "This project is expected to provide the tools and protocols that will create a more efficient and thorough process."

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