As a subarea of chemical analysis, environmental analysis focuses on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of substances from the environment. With today's analysis devices, it is possible to sample some part of the environment (air, soil and water), to separate into the different substances and to determine or qualify each substance. For separation chromatographs are used, which differ in the techniques depending on the substance to be investigated:
- LC = liquid chromatography or HPLC = high performance liquid chromatography
- GC = Gas chromatography
- IC = ion chromatography
The following analysis devices are used for the subsequent determination and qualification:
- Atomic absorption spectrometer = AAS, for the determination of heavy metals
- Fluorescence spectroscopy, for the determination of organic substances
- Mass Spectrometry = MS
- UV / VIS spectroscopy, for the determination of organic substances
Water analysis represents an important part of environmental analysis. The parameters and substances that characterize the condition of the water are manifold. Thus, the chemical oxygen demand (= COD) can be determined by using a cuvette rapid test, while the total oxygen demand (= TOD) is usually determined in an automated measurement method.
The question of water quality often depends on the pollutant load of heavy metals, germs or drug residues. The atomic absorption spectrometer is used for the analysis of metals and semi-metals. One of the advantages of mass spectrometers is relatively easy coupling to a HPLC system or gas chromatograph in order to sequentially obtain the various mass spectra.
The fields of application of chromatography are therefore diverse. In addition to environmental analysis, the techniques are also used in pharmacy, food chemistry, life science and biotechnology.