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Worst case scenarios in a GC-MS lab Are you familiar with this Situation in your Lab?

Author / Editor: Petra Gerhards* / Dr. Ilka Ottleben

Lab technicians are highly valued in any lab and often missed dearly when they are on vacation. This article’s purpose is to show the daily GC-MS lab routine through a series of worst case scenarios that a scientist can come across. To reduce the chance of these occurring, processes can be incorporated to improve the lab routine and daily workflow.

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Figure 1: How vials should appear compared to how they actually look in reality
Figure 1: How vials should appear compared to how they actually look in reality
(Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific)

The first question asked upon entering the lab on a Monday morning is, “Have all the instruments been functioning correctly over the weekend?” We are lucky; all instruments have worked perfectly and there has been no downtime. We can then start working on our new samples, free of worry. A quick check that all samples and the relevant sample preparation equipment are ready to use and then we can proceed. A few sips of a much needed coffee and then we are all set to have a productive day. Or not?

Morning: What happened to our calibration curves?

Our colleague, who normally takes care of the calibration curves and prepares the samples, is on vacation so someone else must undertake these tasks today. What could possibly go wrong? Four hours later, we have learned our lesson. The mass spectrometer displays a calibration curve that does not look normal. We have accurately diluted the stock solution; so, what could the problem be?