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pharmaceuticals in sludge

Clean-up of Pharmaceuticals in Sludge Cake

19 November 2014

This study suggests that a modified form of QuEChERS may be suitable for extraction and clean-up of pharmaceuticals in complex environmental matrices. 

 

Carried out by a collaborative group at Swansea University in south Wales, this study evaluates the use of the standard ISOLUTE® QuEChERS products for extraction and clean-up of common over-the-counter (OTC) drugs from environmental matrices such as sludge cake. Sludge cake is a very complex matrix derived from wastewater treatment processes, and can be used as fertilizer in agriculture. Thus fast, simple methods that allow analysis of pharmaceutical residues in such matrices are of increasing importance. 

Compared to existing clean-up methods, ISOLUTE® QuEChERS was found to be quick and simple to perform. Although not optimized for clean-up of the target matrices, the method described in this application note achieves reasonable recoveries of all four compounds in both water and sludge cake. This study suggests that a modified form of QuEChERS may be suitable for extraction and clean-up of pharmaceuticals in complex environmental matrices. Further work should investigate the use of alternative sorbent mixes in the d-SPE step to enhance clean-up and further reduce matrix effects.

Analytes

Acetaminophen, cetirizine dihydrochloride, diphenhydramine hydrochloride and diclofenac.

Sludge cake before and after clean-up with Biotage Quechers.

ISOLUTE® QuEChERS products provide clean and efficient extraction for a variety of complex samples, reducing sample preparation to approximately 20 minutes.

Left: Sludge extract before and after SPE with QuEChERS. 

This work is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. The authors thank Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water for assisting with the study.