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Developing Methods for Analyzing the Role of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants in River Water

  Ishan Bardhan and Thomas B. Huff



Several of Virginia 's rivers, including the Potomac and the Shenandoah, have been experiencing massive fish kills. In addition, incidents of male fish developing egg sacks and other female characteristics have been documented in both rivers. This may be due to in part to the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals and pharmaceuticals in the water coming from sewage treatment facilities and agricultural practices. Our bodies do not completely metabolize the drugs we consume, and they are excreted into wastewater which in turn is released into the environment. Manure applied to farm fields as fertilizer also contains many of these components which may runoff into rivers and affect the water quality.

Our purpose is to analyze river water samples using solid phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in order to identify any pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics in the environment. This project helped determine the efficiency of the solid phase cartridges and contributed to optimizing the methods used in the ongoing study of several rivers in Virginia .

We extracted samples using SPE cartridges. We began by creating a spike solution composed of six commonly used fluoroquinolone antibiotics. We then spiked four different volumes of water, keeping all other variables constant. We then ran the different volumes of water through the cartridges using an orthogonal separation method. We then ran our samples through a LCMS to determine whether changes in the volume of water extracted affected the extraction efficiency.

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