MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Where is chromatography used in the workplace?

Date: Thu Jan 11 21:43:54 2001
Posted By: Sojo Luis E., Staff, Reseach and Development, Axelson Biopharma Research
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 979223104.Ch

Dear Mary:

Chromatography is one of the most used analytical chemistry techniques.  
But before I go ahead and give you examples I will say that there are two 
main types of chromatography: Liquid Chromatography (LC) and Gas 
Chromatograpy (GC).  LC is based on the movement of a liquid (mobile 
phase) through a column (or bed) made of a solid material (solid Phase) 
(example paper chromatography is a form of LC).  Each compound in a 
mixture has a different affinity (preference) for the solid and liquid 
phases. As they move through the solid phase they start to separate 
because some of them like to spend more time on the solid phase and 
therefore move slower than compounds that like to send more time on the 
liquid phase.  This is why you can separate colours in a ink sample using 
paper chromatography.  Similarly, GC is based on a mobile phase, this time 
a gas, and a solid or thick liquid phase (kind of gummy phase) coated on a 
solid phase.  GC is used to separate compounds that can be made volatile, 
that is to say, compounds that can be turned into vapour; while LC is 
mainly used for compounds that are not easily evaporated.  This does not 
mean that you can't use GC to do some of the compounds you would do by LC.

LC and GC are used in the following workplaces:

to separate drugs of abuse in blood samples, 

to separate and find out how much medicinal drugs and other compounds in 
blood, salive, urine

Environmental Laboratories:

to separate and determine pesticides and otehr contaminants in waters, 
soils, and animals (such as find out what and how much contaminants are 
present in drinking water)

Forensic Laboratories:

To analyse samples coming from a crime scene

In Industries

to determine the components present in pretroleum and oils

to determine dyes and additive in foods 

to determine pesticides and other additives in foods

and the list goes on.

I am a chromatographer and right now we are using LC couple with a mass 
spectrometric detector (if you want to know what is a mass spectrometric 
detector let me know) to determined three different kinds of drugs in 
plasma (a part of blood) from donors.

Hope this helps

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