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CEM’s MARS™ 6 Microwave Reaction System speeds up the Analysis of Dangerous Pollutants

The detection of environmental hazards is an important part of many modern analytical laboratories function, protecting the public and nature from significant health threats. PAH’s, organophosphorous chlorides and PCB’s are all dangerous substances that require a considerable investment in time and reagents to identify and quantify.

PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls are a pollutant giving particular concern as they have been found at dangerously high levels in cetaceans, whales and dolphins, even potentially threatening some species with extinction. PCBs were manufactured first in the 1920s and commonly used in paints, flame retardants and electrical gear.

They have a wide-ranging impact on both human and animal health, as carcinogens and immune system suppressants with a negative effect on normal reproduction. They were banned in the US in 1979, in the UK in 1981 and then the rest of the EU in 1987.

However, PCBs from are still slowly leaking from landfills, finding their way into rivers and eventually into the marine environment, where they work their way up the food chain and accumulate in blubber of the top predators: whales and dolphins.

Solvent extraction is used in the environmental lab for the determination of a complete array of organic contaminants like PCBs, in environmental samples. Traditionally, such liquid/solid solvent extractions have involved either banks of Soxhlets extractors, using large quantities of solvents or slow, sequential pressurised systems that process only 1 sample every 20 minutes.

Environmental labs following US EPA Method 3546, a procedure for extracting organochlorine pesticides, semivolatile organics, PAHs, PCBs, phenoxyacid herbicides, phenols, dioxins, and furans from soils, clays, sediments, sludges, and solid waste, will prepare and analyse several hundred samples per week.

It is then easy to see how PCB’s, like PAH’s and organophosphorous chlorides, can cause major bottlenecks in throughput, as well as being time-consuming and expensive.

All of this has now changed with the introduction of extraction processes based on microwave technology, a proven method now accepted by professional organisations and governments throughout the world. Closed-vessel microwave extraction decreases extraction times and reduces solvent consumption, while improving extraction efficiency.

The CEM MARS™ 6 Microwave Reaction System can perform over 500 microwave extractions for the same amount of solvent consumed during 32 Soxhlet extractions. Multiple samples can be run in parallel and the system is simple and easy to use, with none of the problems of vessel blockage and solvent leaks often associated with alternative methods.

If extraction involves non-polar, microwave transparent solvents you simply use a CEM Carboflon® stir bars without any need to change the laboratory’s current solvent scheme.

As with so many other CEM products, the MARS™ 6 Microwave Reaction System is instrumentation designed to improve a lab’s efficiency, while making it greener too.

To read a related application note click here.

 

Date added: 2016-10-04 14:06:12