Determination of pharmaceutical compounds in sewage sludge using a standard addition method approach

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An analytical method for the simultaneous determination of eight pharmaceutical compounds in biosolids from urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) was developed and validated. The compounds evaluated were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (naproxen, diclofenac, and ibuprofen), lipid regulators (clofibric acid), and antibiotics (sulfathiazole, sulfapyridine, sulfamethazine, and sulfamethoxazole). Ultrasound assisted extraction with a water–methanol solvent mixture (1:1, v:v) was performed and the compounds were then determined by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The design of the method was based on the application of the standard addition calibration methodology to reduce matrix interferences. Validation procedures were conducted with rabbit excrements as blank samples. Recoveries of the target analytes ranged from 76 to 131% in spiked samples at 50, 200 or 1000 ng g−1 dry weight (dw). The relative standard deviations were in the range of 5–15% and the method detection limits ranged from 2 to 12 ng g−1dw. The method was applied to monitor pharmaceutical concentrations in biosolids from different WWTPs over an eight-month period (May to December 2011). Diclofenac, sulfapyridine and ibuprofen were detected in most of the samples whereas sulfamethazine and ibuprofen were the pharmaceuticals found in the highest concentrations (>200 ng g−1 dw on average) ​
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