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Low Level Steroids in Waste Water by GC Triple Quad

Agilent 7890B-7000C GC/QqQ with GERSTEL MPS used for automated analysis of low level steroids in water

Right now, there is considerable interest in the analysis of low level steroids (specifically; Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Ethynyl Estradiol (EE2)) in water samples.

The detection limits needed are low enough to make this a very challenging application. Some analysts are already doing this work using powerful and expensive LC-MS systems (an Agilent 6490 for example). One further complication is that if the work is carried out by a female analyst, the potential for contamination of samples during handling means that reliable blanks can be difficult to achieve.

If the sample preparation is automated, this problem can be mitigated and the quality of the results obtained no longer depend upon the gender of the analyst.

Once you start thinking automation, this opens up another interesting possibility.

Publications exist that show this work being done using GC-NCI MS/MS and this approach gives excellent limits of detection,  however the samples need to be reacted first using pentafluorobenzoyl chloride to form derivatives suitable for analysis by GC-MS.

Ordinarily,  this method for routine use would involve preparing each sample by hand.  More conveniently, if the procedure could be readily automated using the GERSTEL MultiPurpose Sampler, this obastacle would be removed altogether.

Make this work; and a GERSTEL MPS coupled to an Agilent 7000 GC/QqQ could provide a fully automated GC-MS analysis to hit the low levels required at something like half the capital cost of a high-end LC-MS system.

When this possibility was drawn to our attention by a customer, our applications chemist, Anaïs Maury, got to work in our lab and was able to show that this interesting concept worked and was indeed a realistic proposition.

We will publish this work as an application note in due course, meanwhile if you would like to know more, feel free to give us a call on +44 (0)1223 279210 or email

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