Analysis of 65 pharmaceuticals and personal care products in 5 wastewater treatment plants in Portugal using a simplified analytical methodology

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Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are becoming increasingly recognised as important micropollutants to be monitored in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), since WWTP effluents represent an important point source to natural aquatic systems. In this study, the abundance of 65 PPCPs was analysed in 5 Portuguese WWTPs during the spring and autumn. Due to the fact that analytical approaches normally used to quantify the abundance of these compounds are labour intensive and require various specific procedures, this study proposes a set of simplified analytical methods for the quantification of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) and polycyclic musks in liquid and sludge samples. The analytical methods were validated using influent wastewater matrices, showing comparable limits of detection and quantification as literature values for most PPCPs, with the exception of the estrogenic compounds. The PhAC concentrations detected in the WWTP survey were in the range of 0.050–100 μg L−1 in the influent and up to 50 μg L−1 in the effluent, where the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the most abundant and frequently detected group. Some musks were detected up to 11.5 μg L−1 in the influent and 0.9 μg L−1 in the effluent, and adsorbed in the sludge up to 22.6 μg g−1.

Keywords: musks, pharmaceutical active compounds (PhAC), solid phase extraction (SPE), solid phase microextraction (SPME), wastewater treatment

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