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J Chromatogr A. 2013 May 31;1292:173-88. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2012.12.072. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Rapid analysis of multiclass antibiotic residues and some of their metabolites in hospital, urban wastewater and river water by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole-linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry.

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Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), C/Emili Grahit 101, 17003 Girona, Spain.


The present work describes the development of a fast and robust analytical method for the determination of 53 antibiotic residues, covering various chemical groups and some of their metabolites, in environmental matrices that are considered important sources of antibiotic pollution, namely hospital and urban wastewaters, as well as in river waters. The method is based on automated off-line solid phase extraction (SPE) followed by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QqLIT). For unequivocal identification and confirmation, and in order to fulfill EU guidelines, two selected reaction monitoring (SRM) transitions per compound are monitored (the most intense one is used for quantification and the second one for confirmation). Quantification of target antibiotics is performed by the internal standard approach, using one isotopically labeled compound for each chemical group, in order to correct matrix effects. The main advantages of the method are automation and speed-up of sample preparation, by the reduction of extraction volumes for all matrices, the fast separation of a wide spectrum of antibiotics by using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography, its sensitivity (limits of detection in the low ng/L range) and selectivity (due to the use of tandem mass spectrometry) The inclusion of β-lactam antibiotics (penicillins and cephalosporins), which are compounds difficult to analyze in multi-residue methods due to their instability in water matrices, and some antibiotics metabolites are other important benefits of the method developed. As part of the validation procedure, the method developed was applied to the analysis of antibiotics residues in hospital, urban influent and effluent wastewaters as well as in river water samples.

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