California Water Science Center

Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory

The Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory (OCRL) is located in Sacramento, CA as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) California Water Science Center. The research team is filled with multidisciplinary scientists with experiences in method development, sample collection, sample preparation, and instrumental analysis.

OCRL is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for the identification and quantification of trace level organic contaminants in a wide array of environmental media (water, sediment/soil, plants, biota, etc.). Furthermore, OCRL can conduct the elemental analysis of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Through the application of these analytical techniques, our research aims to provide answers on the fate, degradation or metabolism, mobility, and effects of environmental organic contaminants.

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS)

The GC/MS is used for the targeted analysis of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in water samples. GC/MS has long been the workhorse in pesticide analysis, allowing for the quantification of analytes using their chromatographic retention time and mass-to-charge (m/z) ratio. Due to the fragmentation of the compounds following electron ionization (EI) at the source, at least two m/z ratios are monitored for each analyte, one for quantification and one or more for confirmation of the analyte.

GC/MS with Purge and Trap

The GC/MS with purge and trap is used for the targeted analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Currently, this instrument is used to analyze disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in water samples. The purge and trap is advantageous for the analysis of VOCs as it removes the loss of analytes through sample processing.

Gas Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS/MS)

The GC/MS/MS instrumentation offers greater selectivity and sensitivity to towards the targeted analysis of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds. Due to its greater selectivity, the GC/MS/MS instruments are used in the analysis of contaminants in more complex matrices, including soil, sediment, and animal or plant tissues. The GC/MS/MS is equipped with a programmable temperature vaporization (PTV) injection system and an advanced electron ionization (AEI) source.

Other Analytical Techniques:

Automated Extraction Systems:

  • Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE) 200 and 350 (Thermo Scientific)
  • EDGE (CEM)

FreeZone 4.5 L Freeze Dryer (Labconco)

Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC)

Geno/Grinder Automated Tissue Homogenizer and Cell Lyser (SPEX SamplePrep)

Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) - column and dispersive