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J AOAC Int. 2013 Nov-Dec;96(6):1440-7.

Analysis of estrogens in wastewater using solid-phase extraction, QuEChERS cleanup, and liquid chromatography/ tandem mass spectrometry.


We present an improved method for trace level quantification of five estrogens including estriol, estrone, 17alpha-estradiol, 17beta-estradiol, and 17alpha-ethinylestradiol in wastewaters. Our method includes sample preparation using SPE followed by a Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe (QuEChERS) cleanup step, a derivatization, and LC/MS/MS determination. Sample extraction was carried out using Oasis HLB cartridges and a dispersive solid-phase cleanup pack containing MgSO4 and primary-secondary amine and C18 sorbents. The resulting extract was derivatized with dansyl chloride. Separation was achieved on an Agilent Zorbax Extend C18, Narrow Bore RR 2.1 x 100 mm, 3.5 pm column; quantification was accomplished in the positive ion mode using multiple reaction monitoring. The cleanup method is quick, efficient, inexpensive, and requires only 200 mL of water. Reliable linearities were obtained for all calibration curves (r2 > 0.995). Matrix effects calculated were less than 12% for all analytes, and, hence, matrix matched calibration curves were not needed. The recoveries for the estrogens ranged from 81-103%, with a high repeatability (n = 3, RSD < or = 9%) and low LOQs (0.6-0.9 ng/L). The method was used to analyze effluent and influent wastewaters in Mississippi wastewater treatment plants, but it is broadly applicable for the determination of trace estrogens in any municipal wastewater samples.

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