Fresenius' Journal of Analytical Chemistry

, Volume 353, Issue 1, pp 39-49

First online:

Organic compounds as contaminants of the Elbe River and its tributaries

Part II: GC/MS screening for contaminants of the Elbe water
  • S. FrankeAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität Hamburg
  • , S. HildebrandtAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität Hamburg
  • , J. SchwarzbauerAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität Hamburg
  • , M. LinkAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität Hamburg
  • , W. FranckeAffiliated withInstitut für Organische Chemie, Universität Hamburg

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


GC/MS non target screening has been applied to water samples taken during 1992–1994 from the Elbe river and its tributaries Mulde, Saale, Weiße Elster, Schwarze Elster, and Havel. Based on full scan electron impact mass spectra and supplemented by extensive use of chemical ionisation and high resolution data as well as by synthetic reference compounds, several new classes of compounds, whose possible environmental effects are yet unknown at present, have been identified. Tetrachlorinated bis-(propyl)ethers are new among the most prominent contaminants throughout the Elbe river. The confluence with the Mulde river adds a variety of compounds, related to the chemistry of chloro- and nitroaromatics, azo dyes, benzanilides, carbamates, thiophosphates, and pesticides. The combined load of the Weiße Elster and Saale rivers carries oligoformals, oxathiamacrocycles, and dichloro- and trichloro-bis-(propyl)ethers, whereas chloropropylphosphates are introduced via the Schwarze Elster. The majority of these compounds, originating from sources at the tributaries, are still present at the mouth of the Elbe river. In addition to specific industrial emissions, a variety of more generally observed organic compounds like long chain aliphatics, sterols, phenylalkanes, and plasticizers as well as ubiquitous environmental trace pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, chlorobenzenes, and hexachlorocyclohexane isomers have been encountered throughout the Elbe river drainage system.