Jump to main content.


Leon D. Betowski, Ph.D.
Research Chemist

Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, NERL/ORD

EXPERTISE: Method development and research focused on mass spectrometry using GC/MS, LC/MS (hands-on expertise with thermospray and electrospray), MS/MS (hands-on expertise with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry), and chemical ionization MS. Analytical methods to detect textile dyes in the environment (use of LC/MS to identify various dyes). Computational chemistry applied to environmental analytical chemistry (use of the National Environmental Supercomputing Center in Bay City; application of computational chemistry software on PCs).

INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH MISSION: Immediate research objectives: Solve problems relating to ion chemistry by computational chemistry and apply these results to environmental monitoring. Long-term research objectives: Combine mass spectrometry and computational chemistry for a concerted effort to aid in environmental exposure research.

SIGNIFICANCE/RELEVANCE OF RESEARCH IN RISK ASSESSMENT PARADIGM: Analytical chemistry plays a central, critical, and crosscutting role not just in hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring, site characterization, and risk assessment, but also in numerous engineering processes required for manufacturing, waste treatment, and site remediation. Development of methods for environmental chemical analysis must necessarily be a continual process because these methods serve as the foundation for all data collected under regulatory programs and also serve as key elements in assessing risk to human and ecological health. Research development efforts for methods in support of RCRA are also directly applicable and essential to other regulatory programs such as CERCLA/SARA, TSCA, CWA, SDWA, FIFRA, and the new CCA. These methods, such as the high-resolution capillary column GC/MS protocol and SW-846 Method 8321 (thermospray LC/MS/MS) developed by Dr. Betowski and co-workers, serve as the foundation for collection of all environmental status and trends data for the determination of transport, fate, and distribution of chemicals in air, water, soil, sediments, wastes, biota, and tissues. These methods have enabled the Agency to monitor the nation's environmental health more intelligently and with better confidence. Because of research from Dr. Betowski's laboratory, all major environmental monitoring programs in the Agency now use fused silica capillary columns in the identification and characterization of pollutants in the environment. The use of Method 8321 has enabled the Agency to comprehensibly monitor such diverse nonvolatile compounds as organic dyes and organophosphorus pesticides. The activities supported by these methods include environmental monitoring and ecological surveys (e.g., early warning of health/ecological effects such as those sought by EMAP); human/health surveys (e.g., The National Human Exposure Assessment Survey, NHEXAS); waste characterization; site characterization; monitoring of engineered site containment integrity; and risk and human-exposure assessment (e.g., biomarkers). Recently, Dr. Betowski's research has concentrated on the application of computational chemistry to environmental analytical chemistry. The use computational chemistry in conjunction with the advanced instrumental methodology ongoing in the laboratory in these programs has allowed the opportunity to work smarter to determine the best experimental strategies within the risk paradigm.

SIGNIFICANT PIONEERING CONTRIBUTIONS: First application of fused silica capillary columns to GC/MS to Agency's monitoring effort. First research group to use triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (MS/MS) as a detector for thermospray LC/MS; this effort enabled the use of structural identification techniques to monitor nonvolatile pollutants. First application of computational chemistry to environmental analytical chemistry within the EPA.

IMPACT OF CONTRIBUTIONS ON SCIENTIFIC/REGULATED COMMUNITY: Our application of high-resolution capillary columns to GC/MS led to the adoption of this technology in Superfund and RCRA programs. The use of thermospray LC/MS/MS is an integral part of SW-846 Method 8321 for nonvolatile pollutants. This method, which is chiefly applicable to the detection of dyes and nonvolatile pesticides (e.g., organophosphorus pesticides), enables the Agency to confirm the presence of these nonvolatile compounds. Journal articles from this research have been cited over 550 times as indicated by the Citation Index.

EXTERNAL COLLABORATIONS: Development of triple quadrupole mass spectrometry: collaboration with the University of Virginia, Professor Donald Hunt. Development of thermospray LC/MS for negative ion mass spectrometry: collaboration with the University of Houston, Professor Marvin Vestal. Application of ion trap mass spectrometry to environmental chemistry: collaboration with Research Triangle Institute, Dr. Robert Voyksner. Development of enhanced thermospray LC/MS for dye analysis: collaboration with Dr. Jehuda Yinon, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Application of computational chemistry to environmental analytical chemistry: collaboration with Professor Donald Aue, University of California at Santa Barbara and Professor Kathleen Robins, University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

EDUCATION: B.S. degree in Chemistry, 1966, Georgetown University. Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry, 1974, Cornell University (Professor Richard Porter, thesis adviser); Dissertation title "The Applications of Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry to Inorganic Systems." Postdoctoral Research Fellow, York University (Toronto); faculty advisers, Professors Harold Schiff and Diethard B÷hme, 1974-1976. Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California at Santa Barbara; faculty advisers, Professors Michael Bowers and Donald Aue, 1976-1979.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: February 1980 - present: Research Chemist, U.S. EPA, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Characterization Research Division, Las Vegas, Nevada. March 1979 - February 1980: Research Chemist, U.S. EPA, Athens, Georgia.

ANCILLARY AGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES: National Environmental Supercomputing Center Scientific Workgroup; SW846 Workgroup (in support of RCRA); Intragency workgroup on dyes; EPA-Oak Ridge National Laboratory workgroup on ion trap mass spectrometry.

PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES/ACTIVITIES/OFFICES:  American Society for Mass Spectrometry.

SIGNIFICANT AWARDS/PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION:

Southern Nevada Federal Executive Association's Outstanding Scientific and Technical Award under the State's Distinguished Public Service Awards Program (1997).

U.S. EPA Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards (STAA) for 1990, 1985, 1984, and 1982 (level III awards):

NERL Internal Grant Awardee (1996)

"Computational Chemistry Applied to Environmental Analytical Chemistry"

EMSL-Las Vegas Innovative Research Awards (1994, 1993 [2 awards], 1991, and 1989):

EMSL-Las Vegas Nomination for the OMMSQA Innovative Research Award for 1993:

U.S. EPA Bronze Medal for contributions for computational chemistry (1995).

PUBLICATIONS: 38 publications in peer-reviewed journals (including Analytical Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry, Environmental Science and Technology, and Journal of Mass Spectrometry) (over 552 citations in Science Citation Index); 7 invited book chapters; 21 EPA reports; 13 invited presentations; 14 other scientific presentations; 31 other co-authored presentations (as of May 2000).

Selected recent publications:

Ab Initio Calculated Gas-Phase Basicities of Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons.  Aue, D.H., Guidoni, M., and Betowski, L.D. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry and Ion Processes (2000).

Nature of C10H2+ in Mass Spectra of Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons. L.D. Betowski, W. Winnik, A.B. Marcus, and S.M. Pyle. Int J. Mass Spectrom. Ion Process. 1998, 173, 27.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Determination. J.R. Donnelly and L.D. Betowski.  In Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation, R.A. Meyers, Ed; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, pp. 3831-3837, 1998.

Environmental Chemistry of Dyes and Pigments. L.D. Betowski, A. Reife and H.S. Freeman.  In Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation, R.A. Meyers, Ed; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, Vol. 3, pp. 1442-1465, 1998.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Particle Beam LC/MS in Soil Samples. C. Pace, J. Donnelly, and L.D. Betowski.  In Encyclopedia of Environmental Analysis and Remediation, R.A. Meyers, Ed; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, pp. 3861-3871, 1998.

Determination of Ten Organoarsenic Compounds by Using Micro High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Electrospray MS/MS. S. A. Pergantis, W. Winnik, L. D. Betowski. J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 1997, 12, 531.

Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons by Ion Trap Tandam Mass Spectrometry. S. M. Pyle, L.D. Betowski, A. B. Marcus, W. Winnik, and R.D. Brittain. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 1997, 8, 183.

Characterization of Groundwater Samples from Superfund Sites by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry and Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry.  L. D. Betowski, D. Kendall, J. R. Donnelly, and C. M. Pace. Environ. Sci. Technol. 1996, 30, 3558.

Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry of Organotin Compounds.  L. D. Betowski and T. L. Jomes.  In Applications of LC/MS in Environmental Chemistry, D. Barelˇ, Ed; Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, Holland, pp. 399-414, 1996. 

Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometric Techniques for the Analysis of Dyes. J. Yinon, L.D. Betowski, and R. Voyksner. In Applications of LC/MS in Environmental Chemistry, D. Barcelˇ, Ed; Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, Holland, pp. 187-218, 1996.

Mass Spectrometry in the Analysis of Dyes in Wastewater. L.D. Betowski, J. Yinon, and R.D. Voyksner. In Environmental Chemistry of Dyes and Pigments, A. Reife and H.S. Freeman, Ed; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NY, NY, pp. 255-292, 1996.

Determination of Carbendazim in Water by High-Performance Immunoaffinity Chromatography On-Line with HPLC/DAD or HPLC/MS. D.H. Thomas, V. Lopez-Avila, L.D. Betowski, and J. Van Emon. J. Chromatog.A 1996, 724, 207. 

Negative-ion Fast Atom Bombardment Mass Spectrometry of Sulfonylurea Herbicides. W. Winnik, W.C. Brumley, and L.D. Betowski. Eur. Mass Spectrom. 1996, 2, 43.

Negative-ion Mass Spectrometry of Sulfonylurea Herbicides. W. Winnik, W. Brumley, and L.D. Betowski. J. Mass Spectrom. 1995, 30, 1574.

Evidence for Thermal Decomposition Contributions to the Mass Spectra of Chlorinated Phenoxyacid Herbicides Obtained by Particle Beam Chromatography Mass Spectrometry.  L. D. Betowski, C.M. Pace, and M.R. Roby.  J. Am. Soc. Mass. Spectrom. 1992, 3, 823.

Environmental Sciences | Research & Development
National Exposure Research Laboratory
Send questions or comments to the Information Desk
ESD Info Desk (contractor operated)
(Library-lv@epa.gov)


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.