Tandem anion and cation exchange solid phase extraction for the enrichment of micropollutants and their transformation products from ozonation in a wastewater treatment plant.Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016 Jun; 408(16):4219-32.AB
The presence of organic micropollutants and their transformation products (TPs) from biotic and abiotic processes in aquatic environments is receiving intense public and scientific attention. Yet a suitable sample preparation method that would enable extraction and enrichment of a wide range of such compounds from water is missing. The focus of this paper was to develop an enhanced solid phase extraction (SPE) protocol which enabled isolation of parent compounds and low molecular weight transformation products (that are produced after treatment of water with ozone) from different water matrices. Ten SPE sorbents were evaluated with regard to their ability to extract acidic, neutral, and basic compounds from water at several pH values. Highest recoveries (91-99 %) for all analytes in pure water were obtained by combining strong anion and cation exchangers of two manufacturers in a tandem mode without pH adjustment. Tandem Oasis (MAX+MCX) was finally applied to extract the spiked analytes from tap water, surface water, and several wastewater samples. The efficiency of the used SPE procedure was examined using an optimized liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) method using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode. The occurrence of some of the investigated TPs in environmental water matrices was proven for the first time in this study. Method quantification limits (MQLs) for all compounds ranged from 3.7 to 15.3 ng/L in all matrices. Recoveries (%RE) were between 90 and 110 %. Intraday and interday precision, expressed as relative standard deviation, varied from 0.7 to 5.9 % and 1.8 to 10.3 %, respectively. Matrix effect (%ME) evaluation demonstrated that even complex sample matrices did not show significant ion suppression or enhancement. The applicability of the method was shown during two sampling campaigns at Ruhr river and a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) equipped with an ozonation step after regular biological treatment. The parent compounds were found in all water matrices at concentrations ranging between low nanogram per liter and low microgram per liter. Concentration levels of the detected TPs were in the lower nanogram per liter range. Their concentrations increased after ozonation of treated wastewater but decreased substantially after a polishing biological treatment in the final effluent and in the receiving surface water; thus demonstrating that occurrence at critical concentrations in aquatic ecosystems is rather unlikely.