Analytical Chemistry


Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry


Terry Cain

Environmental Laboratory Supervisor
(319) 335-4345

The Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) area of the laboratory has numerous testing capabilities in support of many programs and services.

Analysis of drinking water for the determination of volatile organic compounds such as chloroform and for the determination of semivolatile organic compounds such as plasticizers is performed by GC/MS. Nitrogen containing herbicides and organophosphate insecticides in water, soil, and foliage are also determined using GC/MS technology in service to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Municipalities, County Health Departments, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, private citizens, and private industry.

The Hygienic Laboratory has supported EPA’s monitoring for the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rules 1, 2, and 3 with GC/MS methodology in order to collect data for contaminants suspected to be present in drinking water, but that do not have health-based standards established. Testing of ambient air for tail-pipe emission hydrocarbons and possible carcinogenic compounds is also conducted. Rapid searching of mass spectral databases containing over 100,000 individual compound entries allows GC/MS analytical systems to be used as powerful tools for identifying unknown compounds.

Last updated July 6, 2015