Development of an analytical method for the determination of anthracyclines in hospital effluents
Little is known about the fate of cytostatics after their elimination from humans into the environment. Being often very toxic compounds, their quantification in hospital effluents may be necessary to individualise the putative magnitude of pollution problems. We therefore developed a method for the determination of the very important group of anthracyclines (doxorubicin, epirubicin, and daunorubicin) in hospital effluents. Waste water samples were enriched by solid phase extraction (concentration factor 100), analysed by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), and monitored by fluorescence detection. This method is reproducible and accurate within a range of 0.1-5 micro g l(-1) for all compounds (limits of quantification: 0.26-0.29 micro g l(-1) ; recoveries >80%). The applicability of the method was proven by chemical analysis of hospital sewage samples (range: 0.1-1.4 micro g l(-1) epirubicin and 0.1-0.5 micro g l(-1) doxorubicin). Obtained over a time period of one month, the results were in line with those calculated by an input-output model. These investigations show that the examined cytostatics are easily detectable and that the presented method is suitable to estimate the dimension of pharmaceutical contamination originating from hospital effluents.