Background: Owing to frequent administration of a wide range of pharmaceutical products, various environmental waters have been found to be contaminated with pharmacologically active substances. For example, stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid, is frequently misused for performance enhancement as well as for illegal growth promoting purposes in veterinary practice. Previously we reported stanozolol in hair samples collected from subjects living in Budapest. For this reason we initiated this study to explore possible environmental sources of steroid contamination. The aim of this study was to develop a method to monitor stanozolol in aqueous matrices using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
Results: Liquid-liquid extraction using pentane was found to be an efficient method for the extraction of stanozolol from water samples. This was followed by direct detection using LC-MS/MS. The method was capable of detecting 0.25 pg/mL stanozolol when only 5 mL water was processed in the presence of stanozolol D3 as internal standard. Fifteen bottled waters analysed were found to be negative for stanozolol. However, three out of six samples from the Danube river, collected from December '09 to November '10, were found to contain stanozolol at concentrations up to 1.82 pg/mL. In contrast, only one sample (out of six) of urban tap water from Budapest city was found to contain stanozolol, at a concentration of 1.19 pg/mL.
Conclusion: The method developed is efficient, rapid, reproducible, sensitive and robust for the detection of stanozolol in aqueous matrices.