My name is Lisa McAnulty, and I am currently a junior working towards a B.S. in Chemistry with a concentration in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry. This Fall semester, I am continuing my research from my intensive summer group project under the advisement of Dr. Huff and Dr. Foster. This project involved looking at pharmaceuticals and personal care products in Potomac River water and sediment samples. This is an important issue because wastewater treatment plants are currently not regulated to remove these emerging contaminants before releasing their effluent back into the environment. Over the summer, we found significant levels of several pharmaceuticals and personal care products in sediment samples collected from Hunting Creek and Gunston Cove. Of these, the most notable were caffeine, a metabolite of venlafaxine, and a metabolite of nicotine. This semester, I am continuing the quantitative analysis of the samples collected to determine how much of other pharmaceuticals and personal care products are in the water and sediment samples.
Recently, our lab moved into the Potomac Science Center located in Belmont Bay. The average week involves creating calibration standards and spiking solutions, which will both be used for quantification and quality control. There is one more sampling trip out on the River planned, where more sediment and water samples will be collected from Gunston Cove and Dogue Creek. After collection, the water and sediment are put through an extraction process that pulls the target analytes out of the samples, at which point they can then be run on our instrument.The analytical instrument being used for this project, the LC-MS, is a powerful tool that has many applications in research. I am really excited for the chance to be able to familiarize myself with its operation, and I hope to continue along the environmental analytical chemistry path.