As environmental legislation becomes more stringent, the need to deliver quantitative results in shorter times and greater volumes is necessary for routine environmental analysis. Most of the high-throughput screening methods used to analyze pharmaceutical compounds are, however, useless for environmental monitoring. This is because these methods primarily aim to retrieve as much information from a single sample using the broadest range of techniques. The chromatographic separation process is considered to be the bottleneck in the process. This is not the situation for environmental procedures, in which the bottleneck is the sample preparation step and is usually very tedious and time-consuming.
In this article, the authors look at ways to increase sample throughput for routine environmental analysis. Several strategies aimed at enhancing laboratory productivity are highlighted and illustrated with from-the-floor applications.