Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method help scientists better detect pollutants in edible seaweeds

Seaweeds are considered a staple diet in many Asian cultures. It is a good source of fibre, protein, vitamins (A, E,C, and K), essential unsaturated fatty acids, and minerals. Its low-calorie and antioxidant properties in particular are of interest to the health food industry, resulting in the uptake of seaweed-based productions.

However like most marine life forms, seaweeds have been exposed to harmful pollutants such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and various pesticides, compounds that derive from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Therefore a reliable and efficient method of detection needs to be developed to ensure public safety. 

Current standard detection methods require large volumes of organic solvents which require pre-concentration and clean-up steps. This results in procedures that are tedious, time-consuming and not particularly eco-friendly. Scientists have suggested instead a different approach, employing solid-phase micro-extraction (SPME) to carry out multiclass residue analysis on dry seaweeds. The results of this study were recently published in the Analytica Chimica Acta journal.

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