ABSTRACT: In the early 1990s different studies highlighted the relationship between pharmaceuticals, human health and the environment. Among the emerging contaminants, antibiotics are obviously of high concern, because of their potential for inducing antibiotic resistance. In addition, natural and synthetic hormones are relevant because of their potential endocrine-disrupting effects on wildlife. This investigation focuses on the analysis of four classes of veterinary and human pharmaceuticals (sulfonamides, tetracyclines, analgesics and hormones) in surface water and wastewater in Luxembourg. The selected eleven pharmaceuticals include four sulfonamides (sulfathiazole, sulfamethoxazole, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethazine), two tetracyclines (tetracycline and oxytetracycline), two analgesics (ibuprofen and diclofenac), and three hormones (2 naturals, estrone and beta-estradiol, and a synthetic one, 17-alpha-ethinyl estradiol). The most innovative parts of this study are the simultaneous extraction of the above-mentioned pharmaceuticals as well as tracking their behaviour during flood events in a small river catchment. The method includes pre-concentration by solid phase extraction using Oasis HLB (Hydrophilic Lipophilic Balance) which gave superior results compared to Chromabond C-18EC, Chromabond(R) EASY and Bond Elut PLEXA cartridges, also evaluated in this investigation. The analysis of the investigated pharmaceutical compounds is carried out by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. The limits of quantification were 1 ng L(-1), except for beta-estradiol (2 ng L(-1)) and 17-alpha-ethinyl estradiol (6 ng L(-1)). Recovery rates range from 70 to 94%, with relative standard deviations between 4 and 19%. Application of this method to river concentration and flood events revealed high concentrations of ibuprofen (10-4000 ng L(-1)), with highest levels during flood events, while concentrations of estrogens (1-240 ng L(-1)) and sulfonamides (1-20 ng L(-1)) were comparatively low.
Science of The Total Environment 09/2009; 407(16):4736-43. · 3.29 Impact Factor