Dioxins are environmental pollutants that belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” - a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Today people are exposed to dioxins primarily by eating food, in particular animal products, contaminated by these chemicals. Dioxins are absorbed and stored in fat tissue and, therefore, accumulate in the food chain.
Based on these premises, the analysis of dioxins is very important, and regulations are in place to protect human beings and the environment. This means labs performing dioxin analysis have different needs based on regulatory compliance and the type of samples analyzed.
In this series of blog posts, we will review the main challenges that dioxin analysis presents for labs and see how software is specifically supporting labs.
If you would like to see how the software features are implemented in the software, check out the how-to-videos on this page.
Challenge: Be Compliant
After the Stockholm Convention and when the scientific community recognized dioxins as toxic chemicals, governmental and extra-governmental institutions set regulations defining accepted limits of dioxins. These include suggested techniques to be used for measurements and methods.
Magnetic Sector GC-HRMS is one of the most established techniques for the analysis of dioxins and is mentioned in many official global regulations. In this post, we listed the methods for which the Thermo Scientific DFS™ Magnetic Sector GC-HRMS is compliant.
In terms of methods and requirements for calculations, the analysis of dioxins in food and feed requires that for compliant dioxin quantification, labs need to report the value of limit of quantification (LOQ) of the sample analyzed according to the European Union. This means that labs should know how the LOQ is calculated because they might need to report the process to audit visits. From a perspective of the laboratories, having the flexibility to understand LOQ value and review how this is applied to the analysis is also essential.
Solution: How to Meet Compliance
The analyses performed with the Thermo Scientific™ DFS™ Magnetic Sector GC-HRMS are supported by the Thermo Scientific™ DFS™ Software Package. The DFS Software Package includes automated features supporting full compliant routine quantifications of POPs, with the automation required to meet your lab’s needs.
The DFS Software Package features:
Thermo Scientific™ DFS SmartTune™ Operating Software which manages the instrument’s everyday tasks. From instrument settings optimization and troubleshooting to method development for routine dioxin quantifications
Thermo Scientific™ DFS TargetQuan™ Data Evaluation Software which enables the quantification of dioxins and other POPs, according to isotope dilution requirements and provides easy-to-use features for calculations required by official regulations, for full transparency of reporting.
Unlike some other technologies, the DFS Magnetic Sector GC-HRMS allows simply using signal-to-noise for the calculation of LOQs. The LOQ depends on the whole process, including sample preparation. The acceptable levels of the LOQ are also defined by the official methods depending on the matrices or type of sample.
With the DFS TargetQuan Data Evaluation Software Signal/Noise feature of the DFS Magnetic Sector GC-HRMS, you can have full transparency on how the LOQ is calculated on the basis of signal-to-noise calculations for compliance with official methods. Read the note here.
How: Use the Signal/Noise Feature in the DFS TargetQuan Data Evaluation Software
To explain this feature of the DFS TargetQuan Data Evaluation Software we have dedicated how-to videos where you can also see how this is applied in the software. Check here.
First of all, you need to define the sigma value which will be applied to the calculation. Depending on which official method labs have to follow, the value might be different. Then you can define in the quantification method the time range for each analyte which then will be automatically applied. This time range is relative to the retention time of the analyte and can be before or after the peak. The range is now displayed in the chromatogram. Here it can be reviewed and adapted to the sample in case of interferences. When the signal-to-noise range is changed, the resulting parameters are automatically recalculated in real-time. In the software, the activation of the feature is a one-click process.
Is compliance a challenge for your lab when analyzing dioxins? Share your experience in the comments.
For dioxin and POPs analysis, download the new resource guide containing information on the history of POPs, the implications of their early occurrence, and today’s analytical testing methods for their accurate determination in chemical laboratories as an introduction to this global issue.
If you want to know more about POPs in food take a look at the brochure.