A study focused on emerging pollutants in wastewater led by ICRA, chosen as Editor-Selected Outstanding Paper for 2020

The paper entitled "Wide-scope target screening of >2000 emerging contaminants in wastewater samples with UPLC-Q-ToF-HRMS/MS and smart evaluation of its performance through the validation of 195 selected representative analytes"  has been chosen as "Editor-Selected Outstanding Paper for 2020" in the prestigious Journal of Hazardous Materials.

The method exposed in this publication allows the evaluation of >2000 single compounds in water samples using a target screening approach, covering the vast majority of semi-polar and polar compounds that have been ever reported in the literature. It is the widest method developed so far in terms of number of compounds and allows, for the first time, a comprehensive evaluation of the presence and behavior of organic pollutants during water treatment processes. This study opens the door to the development of new validation methods and will become a reference for the evaluation of the behavior of organic pollutants during wastewater treatment and other processes.

Also, this work proposes a new system of identification points (IPs) based on the one described in the Commission Decision 2002/657/EC to communicate the confidence level in the identification of the analytes. This system considers retention time, mass accuracy, isotopic fit and fragmentation; taking full advantage of the capacities of the new high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) instruments. This system significantly improves the current one, which is obsolete for the analysis carried out using HRMS (which has become essential to carry out advanced research in the field of organic pollutants and the evaluation of water treatments).

The realization of this work has implied a large workload and effort in terms of personnel in which various institutions have actively collaborated including the University of Athens (Greece), the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag, Switzerland), the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics (ETH, Switzerland) and the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA, Spain), from where the researcher Pablo Gago-Ferrero has led the work in the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie project Smart-Workflow (grant agreement No 747698, coordinator: Mira Petrovic).

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