While natural and anthropogenic contaminants threaten existing freshwater supplies, the use of alternative, “dirty” sources is increasing to meet current and future demands for water for energy, food production/agriculture, and human health. A greater understanding of the chemical and microbial contaminant profiles in the traditional water sources, as well as the alternative sources, including recycled wastewater, storm water run-off, and saline water, is needed so that water sources can be better matched with their fit-for-purpose uses. The determination of the chemical contaminants in vastly different water sources is extremely challenging because of the wide range of compounds that could be present such as heavy metals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, industrial chemicals, well stimulation chemicals, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts (DBPS), pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, hormones, agricultural nutrients, and engineered nanoparticles. An additional challenge is the concentration differences, as some contaminants in water are present at percent levels, but most occur at low levels and have unknown cumulative effects on both public health and the environment. The profiling of the microbial communities in water also poses a measurement challenge because of the wide diversity of the bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microorganisms. Understanding these populations and their relationships to the chemical contaminants is critical as water supplies are increasingly being affected by outbreaks including harmful algal blooms. NIST seeks to develop the analytical capabilities and standards to support the measurement needs of the water measurement community and other governmental agencies that monitor and regulate water. The Associate will utilize advanced measurement capabilities including LC-MS/MS, LC-HRMS, GCxGC-MS, ICP-OES, and NMR to develop methodologies for chemical contaminant profiling, or next-generation sequencing to profile the microbial communities based on metagenomics and transcriptomics approaches. The comprehensive profiling methodologies will provide the foundation for the development of reference materials, water treatment strategies, and targeted spectral libraries.
Water; Environment; Contaminants; Chromatography; Mass spectrometry; Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Optical spectroscopy; Microbes; Sequencing;