Improving the Analysis of NDMA in Water

Martin Perkins

7th December 2012

N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) (AKA dimethylnitrosamine or DMN) is highly toxic, and a suspected human carcinogen, as such the US EPA sets a maximum admissible concentration in drinking water of 7 ng/L.

NDMA presents analytical chemists with a real challenge. It is difficult to analyse at these low levels and since NDMA is highly water soluble, it is difficult to extract and concentrate, Liquid-liquid extraction is a non-starter and NDMA doesn’t readily adsorb on anything much. Coconut charcoal has a limited affinity, but that’s about it.

As a consequence, there are a few published methods out there but the results are generally pretty poor and only a few laboratories offer the analysis.

The better part of a year ago, we were approached by a customer who was interested in automating the extraction of NDMA from water.

We were intrigued by the challenge. We know from past experience that when sample preparation is responsible for poor results, automating the method always results in better data by removing dependency upon the dexterity of the analyst.

To cut a very long story short, after working on this on and off for 11 months or so, Dan Carrier, one of Anatune’s application chemists, has finally arrived at an automated procedure for the extraction of NDMA and removes virtually all of the manual sample preparation.  Please take a look at the application note.

We think this is important news and in the New Year, we will be completing this project, turning it into a fully-crafted solution by locking down the GC-triple quadrupole conditions.

This means that, if all goes to plan, will be able to deliver to customers, a complete turn-key solution for this tricky determination, early in 2013.

It is always true that for us to come up with solid method, we need as much input from potential customers as we can get. So a few questions for you:

  1. Do you have to measure NDMA in water?
  2. If so, does this analysis cause you problems?
  3. What financial (and non-financial) costs do you incur as a result of your problems with NDMA?
  4. What advantages would you gain if we could help you fix the problem?

If you would like to know more about our new automated NDMA method and would like some involvement in the final stage of the project, please let me know.

Either call me on 01223 279 210 or email us on