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Detection of pharmaceuticals in wastewater effluents - a comparison of the performance of Chemcatcher® and polar organic compound integrative sampler

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Chemcatcher® and POCIS passive sampling devices are widely used for monitoring polar organic pollutants in water. Chemcatcher® uses a bound Horizon Atlantic™ HLB-L sorbent disk as receiving phase, whilst the POCIS uses the same material in the form of loose powder. Both devices (n = 3) were deployed for 21 days in the final effluent at three wastewater treatment plants in South Wales, UK. Following deployment, sampler extracts were analysed using liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Compounds were identified using an in-house database of pharmaceuticals using a metabolomics workflow. Sixty-eight compounds were identified in all samplers. For the POCIS, substantial losses of sorbent (11–51%) were found during deployment and subsequent laboratory analysis, necessitating the use of a recovery factor. Percentage relative standard deviations varied (with 10 compounds exceeding 30% in both samplers) between individual compounds and between samplers deployed at the three sites. The relative performance of the two devices was evaluated using the mass of analyte sequestered, measured as an integrated peak area. The ratio of the uptake of the pharmaceuticals for the POCIS versus Chemcatcher® was lower (1.84x) than would be expected on the basis of the ratio of active sampling areas (3.01x) of the two devices. The lower than predicted uptake may be attributable to the loose sorbent material moving inside the POCIS when deployed in the field in the vertical plane. In order to overcome this, it is recommended to deploy the POCIS horizontally inside the deployment cage.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 13 May 2020


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