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J Chromatogr A. 2015 Jun 26;1400:149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2015.04.026. Epub 2015 Apr 22.

Quantitative determination of 13 organophosphorous flame retardants and plasticizers in a wastewater treatment system by high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

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AXYS Analytical Services Ltd., 2045 Mills Road West, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 5X2. Electronic address:
AXYS Analytical Services Ltd., 2045 Mills Road West, Sidney, BC, Canada V8L 5X2.


A method for quantitative determination of 13 organophosphorous compounds (OPs) was developed and applied to influent, primary sludge, activated sludge, biosolids, primary effluent and final effluent from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The method involved solvent extraction followed by solid phase clean-up and analysis by high performance liquid chromatography positive electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC(+ESI)MS/MS). Replicate spike/recovery experiments revealed the method to have good accuracy (70-132%) and precision (<19% RSD) in all matrices. Detection limits of 0.1-5 ng/L for aqueous samples and 0.01-0.5 ng/g for solid samples were achieved. In the liquid waste stream ∑OP concentrations were highest in influent (5764 ng/L) followed by primary effluent (4642 ng/L), and final effluent (2328 ng/L). In the solid waste stream, the highest ∑OP concentrations were observed in biosolids (3167 ng/g dw), followed by waste activated sludge (2294 ng/g dw), and primary sludge (2128 ng/g dw). These concentrations are nearly 30-fold higher than ∑polybrominated diphenyl ether (BDE) concentrations in influents and nearly 200-fold higher than ∑BDE concentrations in effluents from other sites in Canada. Tetrekis(2-chlorethyl)dichloroisopentyldiphosphate (V6), tripropylphosphate (TnPrP), and Tris(2,3-dibromopropyl)phosphate (TDBPP) are investigated for the first time in a WWTP. While TnPrP and TDBB were not detected, V6 was observed at concentrations up to 7.9 ng/g in solid waste streams and up to 40.7 ng/L in liquid waste streams. The lack of removal of OPs during wastewater treatment is a concern due to their release into the aquatic environment.


LC–MS/MS; Organophosphorous compounds; Wastewater treatment

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