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Direct determination of trace hormones in drinking water

Endocrine disrupting compounds can now be directly assayed in drinking water without using a solidphase extraction concentration step.

T

he exposure of fish, wildlife and humans

ng/L concentrations of individual compounds may

Both regulations require highly sensitive and

still be present in effluents. Runoff from cattle given

selective methods with ng/L or pg/L reporting levels.

some growth promoters and sludge and manure

Previously published methods typically use solid-

applied to agricultural fields are other sources of

phase extraction as a concentration step to achieve the

hormone contamination.

regulatory reporting limits; however, this approach

to water contaminated with trace levels of hormones

In North American and European cities,

is causing concern globally as awareness grows about

wastewater treatment plant effluent is frequently

Direct analysis of hormones in water regulated

the endocrine disruption potential of such exposure.

indirectly re-used as treated water is discharged

by EPA Method 539 and UCMR 3 is now possible.

Endocrine disrupting compounds may interfere with

into rivers which are also a source of drinking

The integration of a high-volume injection cycle

the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse

water. Consequently, there is the possibility that

with a highly robust and sensitive MS/MS detection

developmental, reproductive, neurological and

trace amounts of hormones may penetrate into

system has resulted in an effective solution for routine

immune effects. The hormones of concern include

drinking water even after special treatment processes.

hormone analysis in drinking water without the need

naturally occurring steroids such as estrone (E1),

Several hormones are routinely monitored by the

for extensive sample preparation using conventional

17-β-estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3), and synthetically

US EPA in drinking water as part of the Unregulated

SPE methods.

prepared ones such as 17-α-ethynylestradiol (EE2).

Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3).

adds an additional expense and complexity.

The hormones enter the aquatic environment in

These include estrone, estriol, 17-β-estradiol,

Method development

a variety of ways but primarily through the discharge

equilin androstenedione, testosterone and

Previously published methods for the analysis

of treated and untreated sewage water. During

17-α-ethynylestradiol. The European Union has

of endocrine disruptors have used ammonium

wastewater treatment these hormones are susceptible

identified a list of priority substances, which includes

hydroxide as the mobile modifier and it is the currently

to removal by biodegradation or sorption to sewage

estradiol and 17-α-ethynylestradiol (Directive

recommended approach in EPA method 539.

sludge, where secondary treatment can consistently

2013/39/EU amending Directives 2000/60/EC and

reduce concentrations by more than 85%; however,

2008/105/EC).

22 | LAB+LIFE SCIENTIST - April 2016

In this study, ammonium fluoride was tested at different concentrations (0.1, 0.2, 0.3 and 0.5 mM)

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