Emerging Contaminants

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AXYS Analytical Services Ltd.
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Sidney BC Canada
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Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs), Hormones and Sterols

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) refer to a broad group of thousands  of chemicals. Over the counter (OTC) and prescription drugs and many consumer products used for personal health, cosmetics, and agribusiness are part of the PPCP group. Many of these compounds have suspected or unknown  effects on humans and other species. With recent development of analytical techniques to measure low concentrations of these contaminants, environmental PPCPs can now be measured at relevant levels by scientists and regulators. Although this group of compounds is currently unregulated, PPCPs are  currently under intense study to determine environmental levels and a wide variety of potential human health or environmental end points

AXYS has been measuring PPCPs by LC-MS/MS instrumentation since 2005. Our current “PPCP” methods  include 121 PPCPs, 74 of which are included in EPA 1694. AXYS also offers 3 options for the analysis of Hormones and Sterols. EPA 1698, performed by GC HRMS, measures 17 hormones and 9 sterols. AXYS also offers a GC/MS alternative to the GC HRMS method which is applicable when dealing with matrices with a high level of plant sterols. In addition, AXYS also offers an LC-MS/MS method, similar to EPA 1694, for the measurement of 17 hormones. All methods are applicable in a wide variety of matrices including POTW matrices.

All analytes are quantified by recovery correction through the use of labeled surrogates, added at the start of the analytical process.  Detection limits are usually in the low ng/L range. PPCP analysis can be performed on all 121 compounds or can be performed on any of 5 “lists” of PPCPs, divided by extraction process and/or instrument conditions.

Many of the products we use in our everyday life are part of the PPCP group, including cosmetics, fragrances and creams that we apply to our skin, prescription and over-the-counter drugs used in human and veterinary health, and vitamin supplements we consume. The most common pathway to the environment is through waste water treatment systems or run-off from biosolids applied to land. When ingested by humans some PPCPs are partially absorbed or metabolized by the human body, however others are excreted in whole or in part unchanged. Entry into waste water systems also occurs through improper disposal of unused drugs. Production and disposal from illegal drug operations is also a concern. PPCPs tend to partition to both solid and aqueous phases in waste treatment systems. Each compound will do so to a greater or lesser degree. Concerns exist for both PPCPs in effluent or in biosolids (which may subsequently be used as fertilizer for agriculture). The greatest level of concern is noted in areas of high water re-use. Many drinking water sources in North America are partially or completely composed of water that has passed through a waste treatment facility.

Since many of PPCP products are designed to stimulate a physiological response in humans, plants, and animals their potential effects on the receiving aquatic environment at much lower levels and in metabolized or altered forms is of growing concern. Studies have shown antibiotic resistant bacteria, reproductive impairment,  or increased occurrence of  disease for specific PPCPs, hormones, and sterols.  Currently, human health effects from PPCPs are poorly documented. Clearly, much more research is needed into the occurrence, transport, and ultimate fate of PPCPs and long term exposure.

We deliver legally defensible data under ISO 17025 certified systems applying  quality systems accredited by NELAP and CALA. Electronic Data Deliverables (EDD), customized for download to our clients’ relational databases, are available in addition to standard format report and full data packages. Please contact one of our Project Managers at 1 888 373 0881 or +1 250 655 5800 to discuss how AXYS can support your analytical advantage.

Please contact one of our Project Managers at 1 888 373 0881 or +1 (250) 655-5800 to discuss how AXYS can support your analytical advantage.

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