Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 387, Issue 4, pp 1469–1478 | Cite as

Polar herbicides, pharmaceutical products, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), and nonylphenol and its carboxylates and ethoxylates in surface and tap waters around Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy

  • Robert LoosEmail author
  • Jan Wollgast
  • Tania Huber
  • Georg Hanke
Original Paper


A survey of contamination of surface and drinking waters around Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy with polar anthropogenic environmental pollutants has been conducted. The target analytes were polar herbicides, pharmaceuticals (including antibiotics), steroid estrogens, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (including perfluorooctanoate PFOA), nonylphenol and its carboxylates and ethoxylates (NPEO surfactants), and triclosan, a bactericide used in personal-care products. Analysis of water samples was performed by solid-phase extraction (SPE) then liquid chromatography–triple-quadrupole (tandem) mass spectrometry (LC–MS–MS). By extraction of 1-L water samples and concentration of the extract to 100 μL, method detection limits (MDLs) as low as 0.05–0.1 ng L−1 were achieved for most compounds. Lake-water samples from seven different locations in the Southern part of Lake Maggiore and eleven samples from different tributary rivers and creeks were investigated. Rain water was also analyzed to investigate atmospheric input of the contaminants. Compounds regularly detected at very low concentrations in the lake water included: caffeine (max. concentration 124 ng L−1), the herbicides terbutylazine (7 ng L−1), atrazine (5 ng L−1), simazine (16 ng L−1), diuron (11 ng L−1), and atrazine-desethyl (11 ng L−1), the pharmaceuticals carbamazepine (9 ng L−1), sulfamethoxazole (10 ng L−1), gemfibrozil (1.7 ng L−1), and benzafibrate (1.2 ng L−1), the surfactant metabolite nonylphenol (15 ng L−1), its carboxylates (NPE1C 120 ng L−1, NPE2C 7 ng L−1, NPE3C 15 ng L−1) and ethoxylates (NPE n Os, n = 3-17; 300 ng L−1), perfluorinated surfactants (PFOS 9 ng L−1, PFOA 3 ng L−1), and estrone (0.4 ng L−1). Levels of these compounds in drinking water produced from Lake Maggiore were almost identical with those found in the lake itself, revealing the poor performance of sand filtration and chlorination applied by the local waterworks.


Polar herbicides Pharmaceuticals Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) Nonylphenol Drinking water Solid-phase extraction Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS–MS) 



We would like to thank Gunther Umlauf for his helpful comments on the manuscript. Three anonymous reviewers are thanked for their revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Loos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan Wollgast
    • 1
  • Tania Huber
    • 1
  • Georg Hanke
    • 1
  1. 1.European Commission – DG Joint Research CentreInstitute for Environment and SustainabilityIspraItaly

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