Online solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-electrospray-tandem mass spectrometry determination of multiple classes of antibiotics in environmental and treated waters

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Jul;405(18):5953-64. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-6863-8. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


An online solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography in combination with tandem mass spectrometry method was developed for the simultaneous determination of 31 antibiotics in drinking water, surface water and reclaimed waters. The developed methodology requires small sample volume (10 mL), very little sample preparation and total sample run time was 20 min. An Ion Max API heated electrospray ionization source operated in the positive mode with two selected reaction monitoring transitions was used per antibiotic for positive identity and quantification performed by the internal standard approach, to correct for matrix effects and any losses in the online extraction step. Method detection limits were in the range of 1.2-9.7, 2.2-15, 5.5-63 ng/L in drinking water, surface water and reclaimed waters, respectively. The method accuracy in matrix spiked samples ranged from 50-150% for the studied antibiotics. The applicability of the method was demonstrated using various environmental and reclaimed water matrices. Erythromycin was detected in more than 85% of the samples in all matrices (28-414, n.d.-199, n.d.-66 ng/L in reclaimed, river and drinking waters respectively). The other frequently detected antibiotics in reclaimed waters were nalidixic acid, clarithromycin, azithromycin, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Drinking Water / analysis
  • Erythromycin / analysis
  • Florida
  • Fresh Water / analysis
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods
  • Limit of Detection
  • Online Systems
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Solid Phase Extraction / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Purification / methods


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drinking Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Erythromycin