Agilent Technologies Inc. (Agilent), a US premier measurement company, has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Exposure Research Laboratory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use the Agilent time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOF-MS) to discover and identify both known and unknown perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the environment.

The study of perflourinated organic compounds in the environment has increased recently as a result of continued studies that specify their distribution, persistence, and toxicity in the environment and biological systems. The collaborative efforts between the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) and Agilent will solely aim on identifying PFOS and PFOA (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid – both utilized in a variety of commercial products) isomers and related compounds while characterizing their environmental distributions and the potential pathways for human exposure.

“Agilent introduced the ‘Accurate Mass’ concept for our TOF and Q-TOF instruments to accelerate our push into the mass spectrometer market,” said Mike McMullen, Agilent vice president and general manager, Chemical Analysis Solutions. ”This environmental application is perfect for this level of accuracy and sensitivity.”

The Agilent 6220 Accurate Mass TOF utilized in this CRADA will help EPA detect and identify compounds in part-per-trillion range. This potential, along with Agilent MassHunter software, is well-suited for detecting and identifying very small amounts of unknown compounds. Agilent’s part of the contract will be to provide the instrumentation, including a liquid chromatograph, software and support. NERL will design specific studies, obtain samples, conduct analyses and quality check the process.

“PFCs are typically found in the environment at low levels,” said Andy Lindstrom, PFC research lead in human exposure at NERL. “Agilent’s technology is ideal for helping EPA identify PFCs in environmental samples and biological systems. This cooperative arrangement with Agilent will help EPA develop methods which accurately identify known PFCs, while we explore our samples for previously unidentified compounds.”