Deutsch: Mobile Phase / Español: Fase móvil / Português: Fase móvel / Français: Phase mobile / Italiano: Fase mobile

Mobile phase in the environmental context typically refers to a component of chromatographic techniques used in environmental analysis. It is a liquid or gas that carries the sample through a stationary phase during the chromatography process, allowing for the separation of different substances within an environmental sample.


The mobile phase is an essential element in chromatographic systems such as gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC), where it is used to transport the analytes (the substances being measured) through the column that contains the stationary phase. The choice of the mobile phase is crucial as it influences the efficiency and resolution of the separation process based on the interactions between the mobile phase, the stationary phase, and the analytes.

In environmental analysis, chromatography is widely used for detecting and quantifying pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and organic compounds in water, soil, and air samples. The properties of the mobile phase, such as polarity, pH, and viscosity, are selected based on the nature of the sample and the specific analytes of interest to optimize separation and achieve accurate results.

Application Areas

The use of a mobile phase in environmental contexts is crucial in several key areas:

Well-Known Examples

Examples of mobile phases used in environmental chromatography include:

  • Water or aqueous solutions: Commonly used in liquid chromatography for polar compounds.
  • Organic solvents: Such as methanol, acetonitrile, or hexane, used alone or in combination for non-polar to moderately polar compounds.
  • Helium, nitrogen, or hydrogen: Used as carrier gases in gas chromatography for volatile organic compounds.

Treatment and Risks

While mobile phases are critical for environmental testing, they also come with potential risks and considerations:

  • Chemical Waste: Disposal of used mobile phases, especially organic solvents, can pose environmental hazards if not handled properly.
  • Selection and Optimization: Incorrect choice of mobile phase can lead to poor separation, affecting the accuracy and reliability of the analysis.
  • Safety Concerns: Some mobile phases, particularly organic solvents and gases under high pressure, require careful handling to prevent exposure and accidents in the laboratory.


The mobile phase in chromatographic analysis is a fundamental tool for environmental scientists in monitoring and understanding the distribution and concentration of pollutants across different mediums. Proper selection and management of the mobile phase are essential for effective environmental testing and ensuring the safety and integrity of the analytical process.


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