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J Chromatogr A. 2001 Sep 28;930(1-2):9-19.

Determination of phenylurea herbicides in natural waters at concentrations below 1 ng l(-1) using solid-phase extraction, derivatization, and solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Dübendorf.


A procedure is presented which allows the ultratrace level determination of phenylurea herbicides (PUHs) in natural waters. Samples were enriched by solid-phase extraction (SPE) on Carbopack B and alkylated with iodoethane and sodium hydride to yield thermostable products. After derivatization, the aqueous samples were extracted and injected by SPME. The use of iodoethane instead of iodomethane allowed the differentiation between parent compounds and the N-demethylated metabolites. Limits of detection were between 0.3 and 1.0 ng/l for the parent compounds. Standard deviations below 10% were achieved for samples containing more than 4 ng/l in very different matrices including Nanopure water, lake water, and waste water treatment plant (WWTP) effluent. Moreover, the para-hydroxylated metabolite of diuron could be quantified with the same procedure. The presence of further metabolites was assessed qualitatively. Chromatography was stable over a large number of measurements even with dirty samples from WWTP effluent. The precision and sensitivity of the developed analytical method allowed the investigation of the fate of PUHs in lakes, their degradation during drinking water treatment and their transport within the North Sea.

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