Analysis of selected pharmaceuticals in fish and the fresh water bodies directly affected by reclaimed water using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Nov;404(9):2711-20. doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-6139-8. Epub 2012 Jun 9.


A comprehensive method for the analysis of 11 target pharmaceuticals representing multiple commonly used therapeutic classes was developed for biological tissues (fish), reclaimed water, and the surface water directly affected by irrigation with reclaimed water. One gram of fish tissue homogenate was extracted by accelerated solvent extraction with methylene chloride followed by mixed-mode cation exchange solid phase extraction (SPE) cleanup and analyzed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Compared to previously reported methods, the protocol produces cleaner extracts resulting in lower method detection limits. Similarly, an SPE method based on Oasis HLB cartridges was used to concentrate and cleanup reclaimed and surface water samples. Among the 11 target compounds analyzed, trimethoprim, caffeine, sulfamethoxazole, diphenhydramine, diltiazem, carbamazepine, erythromycin, and fluoxetine were consistently detected in reclaimed water. Caffeine, diphenhydramine, and carbamazepine were consistently detected in fish and surface water samples. Bioaccumulation factors for caffeine, diphenhydramine, and carbamazepine in mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) were calculated at 29 ± 26, 821 ± 422, and 108 ± 144, respectively. This is the first report of potential accumulation of caffeine in fish from a water body directly influenced by reclaimed water. Figure The pharmaceuticals detected in reclaimed water and the fresh water directly affected by reclaimed water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Cyprinodontiformes / metabolism*
  • Environmental Monitoring* / methods
  • Fresh Water / analysis*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / analysis*
  • Solid Phase Extraction / methods
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry* / methods
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical