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Behavior and Presence of Antidepressant Pharmaceuticals and Their Degradates
Methods Research and Development Program, National Water Quality Laboratory,
Antidepressants are widely prescribed pharmaceuticals. In 2004, six of the 100most widely dispensed pharmaceuticals were antidepressants, including sertraline(Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Effexor), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram(Celexa), and bupropion (Wellbutrin). Despite this widespread use, few analyticalmethods exist to detect antidepressants in environmental matrixes, thus little isknown about their distribution and fate in the environment.
A likely primary route for introducing these human pharmaceuticals into theenvironment is through discharge from wastewater treatment by way of domesticwaste from human excretion or direct disposal of unused or expired drugs intoilets.
Previous studies found that fish populations residing in a municipal
effluent-dominated stream contained concentrations of fluoxetine, sertraline,norfluoxetine (fluoxetine degradate), and norsertraline (sertraline degradate) in allmuscle, liver, and brain tissues examined, further suggesting that wastewatereffluent
pharmaceuticals into aquatic environments and biota.
A quantitative method was developed for the determination of antidepressants andselected degradates in municipal wastewater. Samples were concentrated usingWaters Oasis® HLB solid-phase extraction sorbents. The extracts were separatedby an Agilent 1100 liquid chromatograph using an Agilent Eclipse XDB-Phenylcolumn and were quantitated with an Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex Q-Traptandem mass spectrometer by means of an electrospray interface (LC ESI-MS/MS). Quantitation was based on the ratio of the peak area of the analyte tothat of the internal standard, sertraline-d3. Method recovery standards includednorfluoxetine-d5 and fluoxetine-d5. Spiked sample recoveries in wastewatertypically were greater than 85%.
Preliminary analyses of antidepressant pharmaceuticals and their degradates inmunicipal wastewater samples from New York, Alaska, and Washington Stateshowed individual levels ranging from <10 ng/L to 40 µg/L, <10 ng/L to 380 ng/L,and <10 ng/L to 310 ng/L, respectively. In initial mass balance experiments, therewas typically a 50% reduction of the antidepressant analyte from the aqueouswastewater stream in the final effluent as compared to the primary effluent.
An aqueous-phase only, initial mass balance performed in a New York statemunicipal wastewater treatment plant is shown in Figure 1.
norfluoxetine, sertraline, bupropion, and venlafaxine were all detected.
results demonstrate the applicability of this analytical methodology to wastewatermatrixes and indicate that detectable concentrations of antidepressants aredischarged to aqueous environments.
quantify the subsequent transport, transformation, and fate of these compounds inaquatic environments.
Figure 1. Mini mass balance of selected antidepressants through a New YorkState municipal wastewater-treatment plant.
*Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and doesnot imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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