Assessment of the occurrence and potential risks of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites in fish and water using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry

Jian Wang, Florida International University


A comprehensive method for the analysis of 11 target pharmaceuticals representing multiple therapeutic classes was developed for biological tissues (fish) and water. Water samples were extracted using solid phase extraction (SPE), while fish tissue homogenates were extracted using accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) followed by mixed-mode cation exchange SPE cleanup and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Among the 11 target pharmaceuticals analyzed, trimethoprim, caffeine, sulfamethoxazole, diphenhydramine, diltiazem, carbamazepine, erythromycin and fluoxetine were consistently detected in reclaimed water. On the other hand, caffeine, diphenhydramine and carbamazepine were consistently detected in fish and surface water samples. In order to understand the uptake and depuration of pharmaceuticals as well as bioconcentration factors (BCFs) under the worst-case conditions, mosquito fish were exposed to reclaimed water under static-renewal for 7 days, followed by a 14-day depuration phase in clean water. Characterization of the exposure media revealed the presence of 26 pharmaceuticals while 5 pharmaceuticals including caffeine, diphenhydramine, diltiazem, carbamazepine, and ibuprofen were present in the organisms as early as 5 h from the start of the exposure. Liquid chromatography ultra-high resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry was explored as a tool to identify and quantify phase II pharmaceutical metabolites in reclaimed water. The resulting data confirmed the presence of acetyl-sulfamethoxazole and sulfamethoxazole glucuronide in reclaimed water. To my knowledge, this is the first known report of sulfamethoxazole glucuronide surviving intact through wastewater treatment plants and occurring in environmental water samples. Finally, five bioaccumulative pharmaceuticals including caffeine, carbamazepine, diltiazem, diphenhydramine and ibuprofen detected in reclaimed water were investigated regarding the acute and chronic risks to aquatic organisms. The results indicated a low potential risk of carbamazepine even under the worst case exposure scenario. Given the dilution factors that affect environmental releases, the risk of exposure to carbamazepine will be even more reduced.

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Analytical chemistry|Pharmacy sciences

Recommended Citation

Wang, Jian, "Assessment of the occurrence and potential risks of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites in fish and water using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry" (2013). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3567363.