Determination of steroid hormones, hormone conjugates and macrolide antibiotics in influents and effluents of sewage treatment plants utilising high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry with electrospray and atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation.Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005; 19(22):3269-78.RC
In this study we present a high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS/MS) method which has been elaborated to analyse steroid hormones, hormone conjugates, oral contraceptives and macrolide antibiotics unchanged in unfiltered influents and effluents of sewage treatment plants (STPs). HPLC separation of the steroid hormones was achieved in 35 min, as well as those of the antibiotics. The analytes were extracted by solid-phase extraction, followed by clean-up using size exclusion chromatography (SEC). For the final quantification HPLC/MS/MS was used. The two ionisation modes, electrospray ionisation (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation (APCI), in HPLC/MS/MS were compared for the analysis of steroid hormones. For quantitative results drastic matrix effects were observed while using ESI. These effects were less pronounced while using APCI. These pitfalls were additionally reduced by clean-up using SEC as well as isotope dilution. Additionally, two multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) transitions per compound were used to prevent false positive results. Recovery experiments with spiked tap water with concentrations varying from 1 to 1000 ng/L gave constant recovery rates: The recovery rates for the hormones and conjugates ranged from 58 to 107%, those of the contraceptives ranged from 83 to 109%. The relative standard deviation was found to be 7 to 24% and the limits of detection were 0.1 to 4.5 ng/L. The recovery rates of the macrolide antibiotics ranged from 76 to 103%, while the relative standard deviation was found to be 7 to 14% and the limits of detection ranged from 0.6 to 1.8 ng/L. The maximum concentrations found in influents of a STP was 470 ng/L for estriol and 1200 ng/L for erythromycin.