Research in the Field of Environmental Analysis



Volker Linnemann



+49 241 80 91523



The Environmental Analytical Laboratory uses state-of-the-art instrumental analytical methods to investigate organic micropollutants, elements, nutrients, and summary parameters. Furthermorek, it performs microbiological as well as ecotoxicological tests in water, wastewater, sludge, waste, contaminated sites, soils, and gases in the trace and ultra trace ranges.

Key research areas include the detection and elimination of trace substances, resource management, urban drainage, biological wastewater treatment, and environmental impact assessment of building materials.

  Copyright: © ISA

As part of analyses conducted for environmental impact studies of building and recycling materials in collboration with the Institute for Building Materials Research, the environmental analytical laboratory is using high-detection mass spectrometry, in short ICP-MS, and robust emission spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma excitation, in short ICP-OES, to determine about 62 elements.

For the investigation of non-polar organic pollutants, such as PCBs, PAHs, flame retardants, musk fragrances, alkylated tin compounds and other industrial chemicals such as plasticizers, large-scale analytical equipment such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, GC/MS for short, in combination with high-resolution mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry (HR)GC/(HR)MSn, is being used.

  Copyright: © ISA

Another focus of our lab is the quantification and identification of organic micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals, X-ray contrast media, surfactants, and personal care products, in short PCP, as well as their transformation products using high-performance liquid chromatography with high-resolution mass spectrometry, in short HPLC-MSn, LTQ Orbitrap.

For many years, the researchers of the Institute of Environmental Engineering have specialized in the detection and identification of the transformation products of micropollutants, for instance after advanced wastewater treatment, by oxidative processes, so-called Advanced Oxidation Processes, using high-resolution mass spectrometry (target/non-target screening). Today, internet-based software solutions for database-supported identity comparisons and toxicity evaluation are used in order to determine the hazard potential of the identified substances.

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The ecotoxicological potential of waste water and subsatnces is examined in our own biology laboratories. In addition to classical sludge characterization and the identification of organisms groups by means of gene probes, various ecotoxicological test methods are being applied. These include the algae growth inhibition test, the daphnia immobilization test, the acute luminescent bacteria test, the chronic luminescent bacteria cell proliferation inhibition test, and the growth inhibition test with the help of the Lemna minor freshwater plant. These selected tests cover the trophic levels of primary producers, primary consumers, and destructors.

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In addition to the analytical support of R&D projects carried out at the Institute of Environmental Engineering, the Environmental Analytical Laboratory also carries out analyses on behalf of third parties. Furthermore, the infrastructure is also available to other chairs of the RWTH Aachen University as an equipment center (see also: Terms of Use (de)).

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Analytical and quality assurance activities, in short AQS, are validated, performed and controlled according to the specifications of the "General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories (DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025)". The respective parameter-specific DIN, EN, and ISO standards apply. These can be found in the specifications of the ISA Laboratory. By participating in state and nationwide interlaboratory comparisons, the analytical methods are also checked by external, independent institutions to ensure that they are carried out properly and that the results are consistent. In addition to the national interlaboratory comparisons, which are routinely carried out at all approved testing laboratories, the Environmental Analytical Laboratory voluntarily participates in international interlaboratory comparisons.

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