Non-target analysis for identification of emerging contaminants
As the population of the Cape Fear region continues to rapidly grow, the identification of contaminants in surrounding waterways is of increasing concern. The constant development of new compounds for industrial, agricultural, and biomedical applications continues, thus increasing the possibility of unmonitored and unregulated compounds entering waterways. A rough estimate suggests that about 1 million new compounds are reported in scientific journals each year. While many of these compounds may never be manufactured or reach the environment, some of them will, with unknown implications for human and ecosystem health. We are applying non-target analysis using high resolution mass spectrometry to detect a broad range of compounds based on their mass without prior knowledge of the identity of the compounds. Tracking and identifying these emerging contaminants is essential to determine the sources of these compounds and move forward with research on their ecotoxicological implications and targeted monitoring.