Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

A work on emerging pollutants in wastewater led by ICRA, chosen as an Exceptional Article of 2020

Friday, 25 June 2021

The article entitled “Wide-scope target screening of> 2000 emerging contaminants in wastewater samples with UPLC-Q-ToF-HRMS/MS and smart evaluation of its performance through the validation of 195 selected representative analytes” has been chosen as ” 2020 Outstanding Article according to the Editors (Editor-Selected Outstanding Paper for 2020) ” in the prestigious Journal of Hazardous Materials .

The method presented in this publication allows the evaluation of> 2000 chemical compounds in water samples using objective analysis strategies, including the vast majority of polar and semi-polar substances that have been reported in the literature. It is the most extensive method developed so far in terms of number of substances and allows, for the first time, a comprehensive assessment of the presence and behavior of organic pollutants during water treatment processes. This study opens the door to the development of new validation methods and will become a reference for the evaluation of the behavior of organic pollutants during wastewater treatment, as well as in other processes.

Likewise, this work proposes a new system of identification points (PI) based on what is described in Commission Decision 2002/657/EC to communicate the level of confidence in the identification of chemical substances. This system takes into account chromatographic retention time, mass accuracy, isotopic pattern and fragmentation; taking full advantage of the capabilities of new high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) instruments. This system significantly improves the current one, already obsolete due to the analyzes carried out with HRMS (which has become essential to carry out advanced research in the field of organic pollutants and the evaluation of water treatments).

The realization of this work has involved a great workload and effort in terms of personnel, in which several institutions have actively collaborated such as the University of Athens (Greece), the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag, Switzerland), the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Contaminant Dynamics (ETH, Switzerland) and the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA), from where the researcher Pablo Gago-Ferrero has led the work within the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Smart Workflow project (grant agreement No 747698, coordinator: Mira Petrovic ).