Orbitrap Illustration

Unknown Screening

Ensuring the safety of the world’s drinking water supply is critically important. The health of the world’s lakes, rivers, streams and oceans can be impacted by human and natural activities, and monitoring of these resources is of increasing concern worldwide. Screening water samples for targeted contaminants, such as pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants, followed by quantification of these contaminants, is one possible experiment. Screening water samples for unknown contaminants is another possible experiment and is one of the most challenging workflows in the laboratory, requiring a different experimental and data analysis approach. High-resolution, accurate-mass (HR/AM) mass spectrometry is ideally suited for this difficult analysis. With the high-resolution capabilities and fast scanning speed of Orbitrap™-based platforms, screening water for hundreds of contaminants can be performed in less time than ever before. Results can be delivered quickly, and the safety of our water can be ensured.

For additional resources, search the Orbitrap Science Library

Workflow Overview for Unknown Screening of Environmental Contaminants

For unknown screening of water samples, the goal is to identify as many of the compounds present in the particular sample as possible. This is a more difficult experiment because there is not a targeted list of compounds.  In a typical workflow, the samples are collected and then shipped to the laboratory for analysis.  After the samples arrive, they are logged, processed, and extracted. They are then analyzed on the mass spectrometer, and the data is scrutinized using automated software. The results can be checked against a local database or a larger external database and further confirmed.



Screening of lipophilic marine toxins in shellfish and algae: Development of a library using liquid chromatography coupled to orbitrap mass spectrometry

Gerssen A, Mulder PP, et al.
Anal Chim Acta. 2011 Jan 31;685(2):176-85.


Identification of the unknown transformation products derived from clarithromycin and carbamazepine using liquid chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry

Calza P, Medana C, et al.
Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2012 Aug 15;26(15):1687-704.

Qualitative aspects and validation of a screening method for pesticides in vegetables and fruits based on liquid chromatography coupled to full scan high resolution (Orbitrap) mass spectrometry

Mol HG, Zomer P, et al.
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Jul;403(10):2891-908.