Russell Gibbs has more than 20 years’ experience in analytical water and soil chemistry. Today he is the Organic Chemistry Technical Specialist at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) in Newport.
– My role is essentially analytical method development. I am responsible for identifying new technology which can be used to meet the company’s current and future analytical needs and to ensure that we’re progressive in the testing and research that we do.
Low detection limits present a challenge and are increasingly important in any laboratory working with environmental legislation.
– A lot of the analysis carried out and the compounds we look for are driven by legislation. Certain regulations, like the Water Framework Directive which commits member EU states to achieve good qualitative status for all bodies of water, are driving the need for lower and lower detection limits. Limits in drinking water are at sub parts per billion levels which requires detection limits to be at parts per trillion. As a result we are always looking at novel ways of achieving these limits, while at the same time ensuring the methods are robust enough to cope with the high throughput required in a busy laboratory. The online SPE column is a step in this direction.
Standard ISOLUTE® ENV+ columns have been around for some time. Russell Gibbs is now using the new ENV+ on-line cartridge for drinking water testing.
– We have a standard suite of acidic herbicides, one that is very similar to a suite I am familiar with from my time in a previous consultancy role when I used ISOLUTE ENV+. The detection limits required for that method weren’t as low, because it was being used for contaminated land and waste water analysis. However, we have transferred that suite of compounds to this new method for drinking water testing. Obviously, as with any new method, there are issues we have had to deal with, such as peak tailing and co-elution, so we have made minor modifications to the method.
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