Targeted and non-targeted analysis of pesticides, algal toxins, and human pharmaceuticals in aquatic systems.
It is well known that complex, chemical mixtures exist in the environment, particularly aquatic systems. Originally designed to treat illnesses, support crop production, and clean, among other uses, chemicals can enter water bodies and undergo chemical transformations via metabolic pathways or degradation. Additional threats to water quality include toxic metabolites produced by aquatic organisms themselves, such as harmful algal bloom toxins. To better understand the magnitude of environmental contamination, its effects, and treatment, analytical steps ranging from sampling techniques to mass spectral analysis and chemical identification must be optimized. The work presented here investigates environmental effects on passive sampling devices, toxin identification and degradation in harmful algal bloom species, and the temporal and spatial changes in pharmaceutical concentrations present in wastewater during a global pandemic. Findings from these studies improve our knowledge of environmental monitoring techniques and add impetus for developing better, comprehensive screening methods.