One-step extraction and concentration of estrogens for an adequate monitoring of wastewater using ionic-liquid-based aqueous biphasic systems†
Ethinylestradiol (EE2) is a synthetic hormone that has been recognized as one of the most prominent endocrine disruptors found in the aqueous environment. Nevertheless, the low content of EE2 in wastewater makes its identification/quantification unfeasible – a major drawback for the evaluation of its persistence and environmental impact. In this context, a novel extraction/concentration method for EE2 from wastewater is proposed here based on aqueous biphasic systems composed of ionic liquids (ILs). Aqueous biphasic systems formed by several hydrophilic ILs and KNaC4H4O6 were initially screened and optimized, with extraction efficiencies of EE2 for the IL-rich phase ranging between 92 and 100%. Remarkable results were obtained with systems that allow the complete extraction of EE2 in a single-step, and without loss of EE2 or the saturation of the extractive phase. Further, the concentration factors of EE2 attainable with these systems were investigated by a suitable manipulation of the composition of the phase-forming components and the corresponding volumes of the coexisting phases. An outstanding concentration of EE2 up to 1000-fold (from ng L−1 to μg L−1) in a single extraction and concentration step was achieved for the first time with IL-based aqueous biphasic systems. These systems are straightforwardly envisaged for the monitoring of wastewater as one-step extraction and concentration routes for a wide array of endocrine disrupting chemicals while allowing an adequate evaluation of their environmental impact.