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Transportable Automated HRMS Platform Enables Insights into Water Quality Dynamics in Real Time

submitted on 04.12.2020, 14:10 and posted on 07.12.2020, 08:53 by Michael Stravs, Christian Stamm, Christoph Ort, Heinz Singer
Tracking the occurrence of a plethora of chemicals in the aquatic environment at high temporal resolution over extended periods is a huge challenge. Here, we present a transportable high-resolution mass spectrometry platform including a fully automated workflow for advanced data processing. It measured several thousand concentration data points at 20-min intervals over several weeks, providing unprecedented insights into pollution dynamics, e.g. acute pesticide toxicity peaks in a small creek, intra-day variation of illicit drugs in raw wastewater and identifying contamination clusters of unknowns. This enabling technology has potential for researching and managing chemicals in natural and technical environments beyond current possibilities, e.g. real-time control in process engineering and sewer operation (water management and environmental toxicology), industrial surveillance (law enforcement) and wastewater-based epidemiology (public health).


This work was supported by an interdisciplinary Eawag discretionary seed-funding project, and by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment.


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Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.