Rapid direct injection LC-MS/MS method for analysis of prioritized indicator compounds in wastewater effluent†
Trace organic compounds (TOrCs) have been detected in drinking water sources for several years, raising concerns due to their potential risks to public health. The main contributor of TOrCs to drinking water is through wastewater discharges. However, there are several hundred TOrCs currently known with numerous new organic chemicals being released daily, making it unfeasible to monitor each one in water. This study used a detailed literature review and scoring system to establish a list of twenty priority indicator TOrCs in US wastewaters. Next, a rapid direct injection LC-MS/MS method for analysis of these compounds was developed without the need for an extraction step and only 80 μL sample volume while providing method reporting limits of 3–39 ng L−1 for all but one TOrC (sucralose: 302 ng L−1). The elimination of an extraction step reduced matrix effects considerably making the method suitable for wastewater analysis. Method validation including matrix spike recoveries, linearity of calibration curve and inter- and intra-day variability was successfully performed. Finally, the twenty indicator TOrCs were evaluated in four different wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents through four sample campaigns spread across a year. The occurrence data indicated that all indicator TOrCs were detected in at least three out of the four WWTP effluents. Sucralose, iohexol, TCPP, acesulfame and gemfibrozil were detected in all samples at the four WWTPs indicating they could be used as indicators of wastewater influence in receiving waters. DEET, caffeine, triclosan, iopromide and others are effective indicators at showing seasonal variations, treatment process efficacy, and consumption patterns. Overall, the impact of this study will help develop more effective monitoring programs for TOrCs in water reuse schemes.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Potable Reuse of Water