Chemistry

Early warning about emerging contaminants

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Science  11 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6389, pp. 616-617
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6389.616-d

Contamination of environmental samples with harmful chemicals can be detected with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). This method can provide accurate mass data for the complex mixtures, thus allowing retrospective analysis to look for newly identified contaminants. Alygizakis et al. report on a pilot study involving eight reference laboratories in Europe and Australia to investigate whether retrospective screening of HRMS data can be used to establish the extent of a newly identified contaminant's presence in the environment. On the basis of archived data from 48 diverse environmental samples from 14 countries, the study documents widespread occurrence of several chemicals not commonly included in monitoring of environmental samples. Expanding the pilot to a full early-warning system for global emerging contaminants will require a virtual data repository with agreed-upon data standards.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 10.1021/acs.est.8b00365 (2018).

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