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Impact of 1956 Clean Air Act

Impact of
1956 Clean Air Act

detected in Thames sediment using Advanced Mass Spectrometry.

A Warwick collaboration with the British Geological Survey and CENTA funding unearths the environmental history within the Thames area using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry.

Polycyclic aromatic compounds, or PACs, were found in sediment cores taken from the Chiswick Eyot, a small island in the UK’s River Thames, using Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FT-ICR MS). These PAC marker substances are not typically observed through traditional protocols, such as methods involving gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and so their detection required an advanced approach.

When considering the origins of the compounds, researchers found the levels closely followed the UK's historical usage of coal, including the impact of the Clean Air Act, 1956. These findings have implications for other industry-impacted environments.

This study was made possible by The Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA) who funded Warwick Chemistry PhD student, Rory Downham, under supervision of Dr Mark Barrow and Dr Chris Vane (British Geological Survey). Dr Barrow added:

“Ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry provides us with detailed molecular ‘fingerprints’ or ‘signatures’ that offer new levels of insights into the environmental history of an area.”

The Open Access paper, "Tracking the history of polycyclic aromatic compounds in London through a River Thames sediment core and ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry" is published in top environmental publication, Journal of Hazardous Materials. Read more.Link opens in a new window