Enantiomeric analysis of drugs of abuse in wastewater by chiral liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry

Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, V V R Kondakal, D R Baker

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129 Citations (SciVal)


The manuscript concerns the development and validation of a method for enantiomeric analysis of structurally related amphetamines (amphetamine, methamphetamine, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-ethylamphetamine (MDEA)), ephedrines (ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and norephedrine) and venlafaxine in wastewater by means of chiral chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Solid-phase extraction on Oasis HLB sorbent used for sample clean-up and concentration of analytes resulted in very good recoveries accounting for >70%. Signal suppression during MS analysis was negligible for most studied analytes. Resolution of enantiomers of chiral drugs was found to be higher than 1. Preliminary assay validation was undertaken. The mean correlation coefficients of the calibration curves, which were on average higher than 0.997 for all studied analytes, showed good linearity of the method in the studied range. Intra- and inter-day repeatabilities were on average less than 5%. The method quantification limits in wastewater were at low ppt levels and varied from 2.25 to 11.75 ng/L. The method was successfully applied for the analysis of raw and treated wastewater samples collected from four wastewater treatment plants. A common occurrence of 1R,2S (-)-ephedrine, 1R,2S (+)-pseudoephedrine and venlafaxine in both raw and treated wastewater samples was observed. Amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and MDEA were also detected in several wastewater samples. The study of enantiomeric fractions of these chiral drugs proved their variable non-racemic composition. The influence of wastewater treatment processes on the enantiomeric composition of chiral drugs was also noted and might indicate enantioselective processes occurring (luring treatment, although more comprehensive research has to be undertaken to support this hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4575-4586
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number27
Early online date4 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2010


  • metabolites
  • Illicit drugs
  • Amphetamines
  • Environment
  • Separation
  • endocrine disruptors
  • surface waters
  • Drugs of abuse
  • removal
  • solid-phase extraction
  • Enantiomers
  • illicit drugs
  • stimulatory drugs
  • identification
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • personal care products
  • pharmaceuticals
  • Chiral
  • Wastewater


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