SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  8 November 2012
Volume 13 Issue 11

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Special Symposium in Long Beach Highlights Non-targeted and Effects-Directed Analytical Approaches for Detecting New Contaminants

John Kucklick, U.S. National Institute of Standards & Technology, Nathan Dodder, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Lee Ferguson, Duke University and Keith Maruya, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project

The vast majority of analyses of environmental samples focus on compounds that either have been detected in prior samples or are chosen on the basis of regulations or biological exposure. While practical, this “targeted” approach limits to a few hundred the number of detectable compounds in samples and excludes the identification of “unknown” contaminants. Recent theoretical studies combining chemical use and property information suggest that the actual number of detectable compounds far exceeds those found by targeted approaches.

Until just a few years ago, searching for new compounds in samples was a daunting task generally done by operating mass spectrometers in the full scan mode, which was hampered by poor sensitivity and chromatographic resolution. However, recent advances in high-performance analytical instrumentation have made possible the comprehensive qualitative and quantitative characterization of increasingly complex environmental samples and the identification of multiple classes of unknown contaminants. Instruments such as time-of-flight and Fourier transform tandem mass spectrometers as well as multidimensional separations (e.g. GC x GC) have increased our ability to resolve and identify environmental contaminants at trace levels. Analytical methods are now converging with software and data-handling routines designed to make use of the enormous volumes of data generated from these analyses. The promise of such integrated strategies for the “non-targeted” characterization of environmental samples is the comprehensive and relatively unbiased identification and evaluation of contaminant occurrence and fate in the environment. The combination of such non-targeted analytical strategies with bioassays and other toxicity endpoints offer an even more powerful approach for identifying “causative stressors” in the environment. Such “effect-directed analysis” experiments are well poised to make significant new discoveries in environmental toxicology and chemistry.

To highlight the recent advances in the area of non-targeted and effects-directed analysis we have organized a special symposium bringing together some of the most active international researchers in fields of non-targeted and effects-directed analyses. An oral session will occur on Thursday morning in Room 102A/B, followed by an interactive poster session Thursday afternoon. The first talk Thursday morning by Phil Howard on “Helping Contaminants Emerge: P & B Commercial Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Starting Materials, Impurities, By-Products and Degradation Products” will set the stage for presentations that follow. The sessions will include talks on new analytical approaches from Eric Reiner, Eunha Hoh, Natalie Rosenfelder, Matthias Ruff, Bernie Crimmins, Michael Milligan and John Kucklick. Presentations showcasing the use of biological effects to help guide analysis by mass spectrometry will be given by Gordon Getzinger, Sarah Allan, Beate Escher, Ai Jia, Norman Forsberg, Lee Ferguson, Jeffery Patrick and Jonathan Beck. By pulling together researchers in both the non-targeted and effects-directed fields we aim to stimulate new ideas and foster collaboration in these rapidly advancing fields. We hope you’ll join us!

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