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Determination of human and veterinary antibiotics in indirect potable reuse systems

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This paper reports the optimisation and validation of an analytical method for the determination of the residual concentration of the prescription antibiotics metronidazole, trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, azithromycin, clindamicyn, clarithromycin, erythromycin-H2O, roxithromycin and tylosin in wastewater and advanced treated wastewater. The method applied was used in a study of removal efficiency of these compounds at a full scale operational water reclamation plant using microfiltration-reverse osmosis (MF-RO) (Kwinana, Western Australia). The analytical procedure involves off-line solid-phase extraction (SPE) followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) operated in multiple reaction monitoring mode. Method validation included determination of linearity, accuracy, precision, method limits of quantitation (MLQs), reproducibility and matrix effect. SPE recoveries were generally higher than 89% for both pre- and post-RO water, except for erythromycin which yielded approximately 50% recovery. The overall precision of the method was better than 16% RSD (relative standard deviation), for all compounds and matrices. MLQ ranged between 23–53 ng L−1 and 2.5–31 ng L−1 for pre- and post-RO water, respectively. In-house reproducibility expressed as RSD was generally better than 10%. Inter-laboratory tests revealed a generally good agreement between concentrations of antibiotics reported by all participants. Results demonstrate that MF/RO treatment is capable of removing antibiotics present at relevant environmental concentration in secondary effluent (from the low to mid ng L−1 range) to below MLQs (2.5–31 ng L−1), and more importantly, three to six orders of magnitude below the health guideline values developed for this project. Estimated RO rejections ranged between >91 and 99%.
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Keywords: LC-MS; PPCPs; SPE; antibiotics; indirect potable reuse systems; reverse osmosis; wastewater; water reuse

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Curtin Water Quality Research Centre (CWQRC), Department of Applied Chemistry,Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia

Publication date: August 20, 2011

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