An analytical method with two extraction steps has been developed and validated for the simultaneous determination of 30 pharmaceuticals belonging to various therapeutic categories in urban wastewater. The aim was to boost the little available information on drugs' fates in sewage treatment plants (STPs) and in the receiving surface water. Aqueous samples were divided into two aliquots, each extracted by a different solid-phase extraction (SPE) method and analysed by reversed-phase liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS-MS). Recoveries of the pharmaceuticals were mostly greater than 70% and the overall variability of the method was below 8%. The instrumental quantification limit (IQL) varied between 30 and 400 pg injected, and the limits of quantification (LOQ) were in the low ng/L range. Nineteen pharmaceuticals were detected in concentrations between 0.5 and 2000 ng/L in effluents collected from several STPs in Italy. Atenolol, ciprofloxacin, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, ofloxacin, ranitidine and sulphamethoxazole were the most abundant compounds. The present analytical method was useful to check for pharmaceuticals in various Italian STPs and to identify the most abundant compounds.
- High-pressure liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS-MS)
- Sewage treatment plant (STP)
- Urban wastewaters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry