Doctoral Candidate Arion Leahigh Featured in ACS News Article

Arion Leahigh uses a pump to sample water from Cameron Run in the DC metro area. Photo courtesy of Arion Leahigh

Doctoral Candidate Arion Leahigh Featured in ACS News Article

Arion Leahigh, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was recently featured in the prestigious ACS publication, Chemical and Engineering News. Congratulations!! Read a snippet of the article below.

The Potomac River flows from West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay. Along the way, it passes Washington, DC, which in 2017 ranked fourth among US states in opioid deaths per 100,000 people, according to the CDC. Arion Leahigh, a fifth-year PhD student in Gregory Foster’s lab at George Mason University, has set her sights on tracking opioids in the Potomac. She visits sampling locations in the DC metro area by boat or by foot, using a portable, battery-operated pump to collect water and a grab sampler to obtain sediment.

Leahigh comes from a small town in Pennsylvania that’s been hurt by the availability of illicit drugs. She’s helping optimize her lab’s processes for detecting opioids and other pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). In addition to opioids, her team has turned up caffeine and nicotine in almost every sample, plus blood pressure medication, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and antihistamines.

Leahigh’s group is working to obtain effluent samples from local wastewater treatment plants so they can understand where the drugs they’re finding are coming from. Once they know what the plants are putting out, they can start to understand the differences in concentrations along the Potomac.

Read the full story here