Determination of human-use pharmaceuticals in filtered water by direct aqueous injection: high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry

Techniques and Methods 5-B10
This report is Chapter 10 of Section B: Methods of the National Water Quality Laboratory in Book 5 Laboratory Analysis.
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Abstract

This report describes a method for the determination of 110 human-use pharmaceuticals using a 100-microliter aliquot of a filtered water sample directly injected into a high-performance liquid chromatograph coupled to a triple-quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer using an electrospray ionization source operated in the positive ion mode. The pharmaceuticals were separated by using a reversed-phase gradient of formic acid/ammonium formate-modified water and methanol. Multiple reaction monitoring of two fragmentations of the protonated molecular ion of each pharmaceutical to two unique product ions was used to identify each pharmaceutical qualitatively. The primary multiple reaction monitoring precursor-product ion transition was quantified for each pharmaceutical relative to the primary multiple reaction monitoring precursor-product transition of one of 19 isotope-dilution standard pharmaceuticals or the pesticide atrazine, using an exact stable isotope analogue where possible. Each isotope-dilution standard was selected, when possible, for its chemical similarity to the unlabeled pharmaceutical of interest, and added to the sample after filtration but prior to analysis.


Method performance for each pharmaceutical was determined for reagent water, groundwater, treated drinking water, surface water, treated wastewater effluent, and wastewater influent sample matrixes that this method will likely be applied to. Each matrix was evaluated in order of increasing complexity to demonstrate (1) the sensitivity of the method in different water matrixes and (2) the effect of sample matrix, particularly matrix enhancement or suppression of the precursor ion signal, on the quantitative determination of pharmaceutical concentrations. Recovery of water samples spiked (fortified) with the suite of pharmaceuticals determined by this method typically was greater than 90 percent in reagent water, groundwater, drinking water, and surface water. Correction for ambient environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals hampered the determination of absolute recoveries and method sensitivity of some compounds in some water types, particularly for wastewater effluent and influent samples.


The method detection limit of each pharmaceutical was determined from analysis of pharmaceuticals fortified at multiple concentrations in reagent water. The calibration range for each compound typically spanned three orders of magnitude of concentration. Absolute sensitivity for some compounds, using isotope-dilution quantitation, ranged from 0.45 to 94.1 nanograms per liter, primarily as a result of the inherent ionization efficiency of each pharmaceutical in the electrospray ionization process.


Holding-time studies indicate that acceptable recoveries of pharmaceuticals can be obtained from filtered water samples held at 4 °C for as long as 9 days after sample collection. Freezing samples to provide for storage for longer periods currently (2014) is under evaluation by the National Water Quality Laboratory.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Determination of human-use pharmaceuticals in filtered water by direct aqueous injection: high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 5-B10
DOI 10.3133/tm5B10
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Water Quality Laboratory
Description Report: viii, 49 p.; Tables; Appendix Tables
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Section B: Methods of the National Water Quality Laboratory in Book 5 Laboratory Analysis
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
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