Development and validation of a GC–MS method for the evaluation of 17 endocrine disruptor compounds, including phytoestrogens and sitosterol, in coastal waters – their spatial and seasonal levels in Porto costal region (Portugal)

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A gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC–MS) method was developed and optimized for the determination of 17 endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in coastal water samples. The evaluated EDCs were from different origins and included estrogens, bisphenol A, alkylphenolethoxylates, alkylphenols, phytoestrogens and sitosterol (SITO). The EDCs were extracted from samples using Oasis HLB (Hydrophilic–Lipophilic Balance) cartridges and derivatized with N,O-bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA) added with 1% trimethylchlorosilane (TMCS). The validation parameters revealed that this method was highly specific for all assayed compounds (>99%) and the linearity of the calibration curves showed a correlation higher than 0.99. The detection limits were at low ng/L level and the recovery rates were higher than 70%. The performance of the method was checked using coastal water samples taken every 2 months during 2009–2010 from the Douro River estuary and the Porto coastline (Portugal). These data revealed that approximately 98.0% of the analyzed compounds showed levels above their limits of detection (LODs). The measured estrogens (2–20 ng/L) and industrial pollutants (up to 1.1 μg/L) were in biologic hazardous concentrations. Besides, a clear seasonal pattern of fluctuation was established for phytoestrogens and SITO. The physicochemical data, namely the amounts of nitrates, nitrites and phosphorous, confirmed the low water quality of this area.

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