Contaminants of emerging concern

Mass spectrometry is a good tool to have in your toolbox as you examine the sources and potential effects of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) on the environment.

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) is a general term that covers a broad class of different types of chemical compounds, including medicines, personal care or household cleaning products, flame retardants, lawn care and agricultural products. These diverse compounds are classified as “emerging” because they are often newly identified manufactured or naturally occurring chemicals that are detected in various matrices at insignificant levels. This is why, in most cases, CECs do not have applicable regulatory health standards.

While not commonly monitored, these chemicals can enter the environment and trigger known or suspected ecological effects that can affect human health. CECs are consistently found in groundwater, surface water, municipal wastewater, drinking water, soil and food sources. The persistence of these chemicals is a threat as they can potentially bioaccumulate in crops, in the environment and in our bodies. As such, environmental researchers need a way to study the fate, bioavailability, adverse outcome pathways and environmental impact of CECs.

Because CECs are broadly defined as any chemical or microorganism that is not currently routinely monitored, in many cases, these compounds are orders of magnitude below known acute toxicity levels and require detection at very low levels.

This is where liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can come into play.

LC-MS/MS for comprehensive evaluation of assorted classes of contaminants

SCIEX mass spectrometry solutions for the analysis of CECs in environmental samples enable you to:

  • Monitor for many classes of compounds on a single analytical instrument
  • Simplify sample preparation with highly sensitive analytical detection
  • Eliminate the impact of matrices on results with highly rugged hardware
  • Get results from your data quickly with comprehensive software solutions

Detecting assorted flame retardant compounds

RUO-MKT-18-12150 -A-Contaminants-of-emerging-concern--_L2-Sub-Applications__V1_04.21

LC-MS/MS: Address escalating levels of contaminants of emerging concern

Brominated flame retardants (BFRs)

Easily assess the impact of BFRs with LC-MS/MS.

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)

Determine the concentration of DBPs in the environment.

Endocrine disruptors

Quantify endocrine-disrupting compounds at trace levels in water, soil, foods or other products.


Accurately measure and assess the fate of nanomaterials and their potential toxicity to humans and the environment.

Natural and freshwater toxins

Comprehensively test a wide scope of toxins, including microcystins, in a single analysis.

Pesticides and herbicides

Analyze the toxicity level of pesticides and herbicides, detect the amount present in water and determine how much exposure is a hazard.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)

Get the selectivity, specificity and sensitivity you need to quantify PPCP compounds at a low ppt range.

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Accurately analyze the diverse chemical structures of PFAS, including GenX, using LC-MS/MS technology.

Suspect screening and unknown surveillance

Get the confidence you need to confirm “known” unknowns.