PRESENTATION ACS SPRING 2018: Adding Complex Expert Knowledge into Chemical Database and Transforming Surfactants in Wastewater

25 Mar

Adding Complex Expert Knowledge into Chemical Databases: Transforming Surfactants in Wastewater

PRESENTED by Emma Schymanski

The increasing popularity of high mass accuracy non-target mass spectrometry methods has yielded extensive identification efforts based on chemical compound databases. Candidate structures are often retrieved with either exact mass or molecular formula from large resources such as PubChem, ChemSpider or the EPA CompTox Chemistry Dashboard. Additional data (e.g. fragmentation, physicochemical properties, reference and data source information) is then used to select potential candidates, depending on the experimental context. However, these strategies require the presence of substances of interest in these compound databases, which is often not the case as no database can be fully inclusive. A prominent example with clear data gaps are surfactants, used in many products in our daily lives, yet often absent as discrete structures in compound databases. Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS) are a common, high use and high priority surfactant class that have highly complex transformation behaviour in wastewater. Despite extensive reports in the environmental literature, few of the LAS and none of the related transformation products were reported in any compound databases during an investigation into Swiss wastewater effluents, despite these forming the most intense signals. The LAS surfactant class will be used to demonstrate how the coupling of environmental observations with high resolution mass spectrometry and detailed literature data (expert knowledge) on the transformation of these species can be used to progressively “fill the gaps” in compound databases. The LAS and their transformation products have been added to the CompTox Chemistry Dashboard ( using a combination of “representative structures” and “related structures” starting from the structural information contained in the literature. By adding this information into a centralized open resource, future environmental investigations can now profit from the expert knowledge previously scattered throughout the literature. Note: This abstract does not reflect US EPA policy.



About tony

Founder of ChemZoo Inc., the host of ChemSpider ( ChemSpider is an open access online database of chemical structures and property transaction based services to enable chemists around the world to data mine chemistry databases. The Royal Society of Chemistry acquired ChemSpider in May 2009. Presently working as a consortium member of the OpenPHACTS IMI project ( This focuses on how drug discovery can utilize semantic technologies to improve decision making and brings together 22 European team members to develop an infrastructure to link together public and private data for the drug discovery community. I am also involved with the PharmaSea FP7 project ( trying to identify new classes of marine natural products with potential pharmacological activity. I am also one of the hosts for three wikis for Science: ScientistsDB, SciMobileApps and SciDBs. Over the past decade I held many responsibilities including the direction of the development of scientific software applications for spectroscopy and general chemistry, directing marketing efforts, sales and business development collaborations for the company. Eight years experience of analytical laboratory leadership and management. Experienced in experimental techniques, implementation of new NMR technologies, walk-up facility management, research and development, manufacturing support and teaching. Ability to provide situation analysis, creative solutions and establish good working relationships. Prolific author with over a 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 3 patents and over 300 public presentations. Specialties Leadership in the domain of free access Chemistry, Product and project management, Organizational and Leadership development, Competitive analysis and Business Development, Entrepreneurial.
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Posted by on March 25, 2018 in ACS Meetings


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