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Scientists track down hard to find water nasties

wave21.jpgA crack team of scientists from Missouri University of Science and Technology, Applied Biosystems and MDS Analytical Technologies are working to identify the contaminants in American drinking water. When they’re finished, Greenbang would like to request that they come and test the contaminants in her local swimming pool – she suspects it would be a grimly interesting project. Greenbang suspects they might come up with a. chlorine, b. discarded verucca socks and c. schoolchildren’s urine. Or worse.

But Greenbang is being churlish. There’s far worse in American drinking water, apparently – some 41 million US citizens found themselves supping on H2O with pharmaceutical products included, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.

Now the boffins from Missouri University, Applied Biosystems and its JV partner MDS are trying to come of with new ways to help those in charge of our water to spot those trickier-to-find nasties like disinfectant byproducts.

Here’s how they’ll divvy up the work:

The analysis and method development will take place on the campus of Missouri S&T. The university scientists will also 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 Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies’ 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. […]

For this project, the scientific team is employing a complete mass spectrometry workflow from Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies that incorporates the 4000 QTRAP(R) system, which is a specialized mass spectrometer that integrates quantitative and qualitative analysis by combining triple quadrupole and linear ion trap capabilities. It is the only system of its kind that provides information to identify and quantify contaminants at trace levels. The software that will host the new methods is Cliquid(R) software, which is an application that simplifies the operation of LC/MS/MS (tandem liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry), an analytical technique that combines physical separation with mass-based detection. The new methods will build on the integrated functionality of Cliquid 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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