Determination of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in fish using high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Labeled as emerging organic contaminants, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have been the focus of global environmental research for over a decade. PPCPs have caused widespread concern due to their extensive use. As PPCPs were designed to correct, enhance, or protect a specific physiological or endocrine condition, their target effects in humans and/or farm stocks are relatively well understood and documented. However, there is limited knowledge about their unintended effects in the environment. To address the occurrence, distribution and fate of PPCPs in the environment, efficient and reliable analytical methods are needed. The relatively low concentration, high polarity, and thermal lability of some PPCPs, together with their interaction with complex environmental matrices, makes their analysis challenging. Sample preparation followed by GC or HPLC separation and mass spectrometry (MS) detection has become the standard approach for evaluating PPCPs in environmental samples. PPCPs have been widely reported in water, sediment and biosolids, but reports of their occurrence in aquatic organisms have been limited by the difficulty of analysis. Herein, we report the first HPLC-MS/MS screening method for the analysis of 23 pharmaceuticals and 2 metabolites representing multiple therapeutic classes in fish tissues. The developed methodology was successfully applied to assess the occurrence of target analytes in fish collected from 8 locations throughout the United States (6 effluent-dominated rivers and two reference sites). A complementary GC-MS method was developed for the analysis of 12 additional compounds belonging to either personal care product or industrial use compound classes in fish muscle. This approach was also applied to screen for target analytes in fish collected from a regional effluent-dominated stream.