Two important limitations relating to the spiking of environmental samples with contaminants of emerging concern: How close to the real analyte concentrations are the reported recovered values?
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Occurrence and effects of contaminants of emerging concern pose a special challenge to environmental scientists. The investigation of these effects requires reliable, valid, and comparable analytical data. To this effect, two critical aspects are raised herein, concerning the limitations of the produced analytical data. The first relates to the inherent difficulty that exists in the analysis of environmental samples, which is related to the lack of knowledge (information), in many cases, of the form(s) of the contaminant in which is present in the sample. Thus, the produced analytical data can only refer to the amount of the free contaminant ignoring the amount in which it may be present in other forms; e.g., as in chelated and conjugated form. The other important aspect refers to the way with which the spiking procedure is generally performed to determine the recovery of the analytical method. Spiking environmental samples, in particular solid samples, with standard solution followed by immediate extraction, as is the common practice, can lead to an overestimation of the recovery. This is so, because no time is given to the system to establish possible equilibria between the solid matter—inorganic and/or organic—and the contaminant. Therefore, the spiking procedure need to be reconsidered by including a study of the extractable amount of the contaminant versus the time elapsed between spiking and the extraction of the sample. This study can become an element of the validation package of the method.
KeywordsContaminants of emerging concern Free and conjugated forms Environmental samples Recoveries In-house analytical methods
“This article is based upon work from COST Action ES1403 NEREUS “New and emerging challenges and opportunities in wastewater reuse”, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)” www.cost.eu.
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