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IMDEA Water develops an analytical method to monitor contaminants of emerging concern

Soil and Water Quality in the Environment (SWQ) group has just published the paper Analytical method to monitor contaminants of emerging concern in water and soil samples from a non-conventional wastewater treatment system en la revista de Elsevier, Journal of Chromatography A (Huidobro-López et al., 2022).

The objective of this study is to develop and validate an analytical method for the simultaneous determination of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including transformation products (TPs), with diverse physico-chemical properties, in environmental samples. The optimised method is based on sample clean-up and preconcentration by solid-phase extraction (SPE), followed by liquid chromatography electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The method is able to detect and quantify 40 target CECs, including pharmaceuticals of different classes (analgesics, antibiotics, antihypertensives, lipid regulators, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antiarrhythmics, beta-blockers, among others), hormones and lifestyle products in different water and soil matrices. The proposed method was successfully applied to monitor CECs in a pilot vegetation filter installed at IMDEA Water. The CECs detected at higher concentrations are some of the world’s most widely used products (e.g. acetaminophen or caffeine and its main TP, paraxanthine).

The results showed an almost 70% reduction in CEC concentrations during infiltration. The groundwater data indicated that the vegetation filter treatment operation did not affect the underlying aquifer. Moreover, this analytical method is also being applied in different research projects carried out at IMDEA Water Institute and in collaborations with public organizations and Universities.

This work has been supported by the Spanish National Research Agency (AEI) through: i) Grant CTM2016-79211-C2-1-R funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by ERDF A way of making Europe and ii) Grant BES-2017-082064 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by ESF Investing in your future.