Advanced Analytical Methods: NMR Spectroscopy as a Tool for Non-Targeted Chemical Analysis of Complex Environmental Systems



Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy, or NMR, is arguably one of the most powerful analytical tools in the chemical, material, and biophysical sciences; however, its potential as a tool for studies in the environmental sciences has often been overlooked. From an environmental perspective, NMR has promise as a powerful non-targeted tool to help better understand the chemistry of complex sites. The data acquired from NMR measurements provides the crucial information needed to confirm the presence of known compounds of interest as well as the information needed to determine the structure of unknown compounds. Furthermore, NMR is a primary quantitation method and is able to measure concentrations without the need for analytical standards or calibrations. This talk will discuss recent developments in the use of NMR as a tool to help improve the characterization of challenging environmental problems, with a focus on the characterization of Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPL) comprised of complex mixtures of contaminants. This discussion will include an exploration of the strengths and weakness of this analytical method as a tool for environmental characterization and its development as a practical bench-scale tool for site characterization.

The Presenters:

James Longstaffe
Prof. James Longstaffe is an Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Science at the University of Guelph and focuses on the behavior of chemical contaminants in the environment in his research program. Contamination of the environment with anthropogenic chemical agents is recognized as one of the leading factors contributing to global environmental change. The complex relationships between the chemical, physical, and biological processes that occur in the heterogeneous mixture of air, water, soil, and biology in the near-surface environment all play an important role in governing the behavior of contamination in the global environment, including their persistence, degradation, transport, and ecotoxicity. A key part of his research involves developing and applying novel analytical methods to provide new insight into the natural processes that remove or reduce the impact of environmental contamination.

Brent Pautler
Brent Pautler is the Customer Service Coordinator at SiREM and an environmental analytical chemist with advanced technical experience in passive sampling, spectroscopy, chromatography, mass spectrometry and chemistry informatics. Throughout his career he has been dedicated to working with scientists, engineers and consultants, applying his chemistry and information technology expertise to help them solve unique problems both in the laboratory and the field. He is the lead contact at SiREM for passive sampling products and services including Waterloo Membrane Sampler (WMS)TM for vapor intrusion and soil gas, SP3TM & SPeepersTM for sediment pore water and surface water while supporting SiREM’s bioaugmentation culture clients.