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Determination of 89 drugs and other micropollutants in unfiltered wastewater and freshwater by LC-MS/MS: an alternative sample preparation approach


A liquid chromatography-triple quadrupole-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-qQq-MS/MS) method was developed for simultaneous determination of 89 legal neuropsychiatric pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs (both parent compounds and metabolites) and other micropollutants in unfiltered wastewater and freshwater. The target chemicals fall under the classes of amphetamine-type stimulants, cocaine compounds, opiates and opioids, benzodiazepines, lysergic compounds, antipsychotics, anesthetics, antiepileptics, antidepressants, sympathomimetics, cannabinoids, blood thinners, antihistamines, β-blockers, caffeine derivatives, nicotine derivatives, z-drugs, new designer drugs, and Alzheimer medications. The sample preparation procedure was designed for unfiltered wastewater and freshwater without the need to separate the particulate matter (if any) from the aqueous phase prior to extraction. Samples were pre-concentrated by rotary evaporation in the presence of a solvent. Method precision (absolute values; N = 6 replicate analyses at the fortification level of 50 ng, k = 6 days) for 87 out of 89 target analytes ranged from 2.8 to 34% (RSD %). The limits of detection ranged from 0.11 to 202 ng L−1, and the matrix effects ranged from +16 to −84%. A total of 10 samples, 8 wastewater, 1 drinking water, and 1 lake water, were collected from New York State, USA, and were analyzed for the target compounds to demonstrate the applicability of the developed method. This is the first study to report the analysis of multiple classes of pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, and other micropollutants in unfiltered wastewater.

Analysis of 89 micropollutants in unfiltered wastewater by LC-MS/MS

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The authors declare no conflict of interest. The work was performed at Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health. SH was supported in part through an NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) supplement to Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site award 1359413

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Correspondence to Kurunthachalam Kannan.

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Asimakopoulos, A.G., Kannan, P., Higgins, S. et al. Determination of 89 drugs and other micropollutants in unfiltered wastewater and freshwater by LC-MS/MS: an alternative sample preparation approach. Anal Bioanal Chem 409, 6205–6225 (2017).

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