Go to contents (site navigation)


Realised by ALMS™
developer of the AIDS-HIV Reference project
Abstract No.: ThP-092
Session: Environmental Analysis
Presentation date: Thu, Aug 31, 2006
Presentation time: 14:30 – 16:00

Determination of Pharmaceutical Compounds in Aquatic Environment by GC/ITMS

Zaharie Moldovan1, Gabriella Schmutzer1, Alfredo Alder2

1 Nat. Inst. for Research and Development on Isotopic and Molecular Technologies, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
2 Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland

Correspondence address: Zaharie Moldovan, Nat. Inst. for Research and Development on Isotopic and Molecular Technologies, Mass Spectrometry, Donath, 71-103, Cluj-Napoca, 400293 Romania.

Keywords: Environmental; Mass Spectrometry, Gas Chromatography; Pharmaceutical; Trace Analysis.

Novel aspect: The objective of the study is the development of sensitive and selective mass spectrometric methods for determination of pharmaceuticals from aquatic environment.


The occurrence of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the aquatic environment has been recognised as one of emerging issue in environmental chemistry.1 Due to an incomplete elimination in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) residue of pharmaceutical and personal care products are found both in waste and surface waters.2 It is assumed that PPCPs could act as persistent compounds, because of their continual discharge into aquatic media via WWTP effluents, which sustain a multigenerational exposure for the resident organisms.3

Due to dilution and degradation, lower concentration levels would be expected if we were to examine drugs after they enter the aquatic environment. To obtain detection limits down to lower ng/l range high enrichment factors (1000-10000) and sensitive detection methods such as GC/ITMS, GC-MS/MS or LC-ES-MS/MS are essential. In order to prevent the increased peak widths and for reach determination limits down to a few ng/l. very often compound derivatization is necessary. By a an efficient derivatization can be prevent also the formation of thermal degradation products in injector of the GC/MS by decomposition of some compounds. The early reported derivatization method consists of methylation of carboxylic groups with diazomethane, acetylation of phenolic hydroxy groups with acetanhydride/triethylamine or silylation prior to determination by GC/MS.

The objective of the present study is to develop sensitive and selective mass spectrometric methods for determination of large number of PPCPs using simple silylation methods. The described method is used for determination of a large number of compounds belonging to follow pharmaceutical classes: analgesics, antiepileptics, psychiatric, stimulants, anticoagulants, antineoplastic and disinfectants. The paper reports information about structure of compounds, retention time, as well as the mechanisms of production of the main ions observed in mass spectra on derivatizated and underivatizated compounds obtained under Electron Impact at 70 eV.4 The diagnostic ions used for quantification are detailed discussed.

1. S. D. Richardson, T. A. Ternes, Anal. Chem. 3807, (2005).
2. Z. Moldovan, Chemosphere in press (2006).
3. C. G. Daughton, T. A. Ternes, Environ. Health Persp. 907, (1999).
4. F. W. McLafferty, F. Turecek, Interpretation of Mass Spectra, University Science Books, Mill Valley, California (1993).