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Mass Spectrometry (MS)

Mass spectrometry is an analytical chemistry detection technique where inorganic elements or organic compounds are converted from a neutral form to a positive or negative ion. The ion is then passed through a mass filter so that ions of specific molecular mass-to-charge ratio are sent to a detector and counted. This technique is widely used at the NWQL for trace organic analyses, particularly when it is coupled to a gas or liquid chromatographic separation technique that can separate mixtures of similar compounds, such as pesticides. MS can be optimized so that instrument conditions are highly specific for individual compounds, which can then be detected at of micrograms per liter (parts-per-billion) or lower concentrations in water.