Assessment of sample preservation techniques for pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and steroids in surface and drinking water

Brett J. Vanderford, Douglas B. Mawhinney, Rebecca A. Trenholm, Janie C. Zeigler-Holady, Shane A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Proper collection and preservation techniques are necessary to ensure sample integrity and maintain the stability of analytes until analysis. Data from improperly collected and preserved samples could lead to faulty conclusions and misinterpretation of the occurrence and fate of the compounds being studied. Because contaminants of emerging concern, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and steroids, generally occur in surface and drinking water at ng/L levels, these compounds in particular require such protocols to accurately assess their concentrations. In this study, sample bottle types, residual oxidant quenching agents, preservation agents, and hold times were assessed for 21 PPCPs and steroids in surface water and finished drinking water. Amber glass bottles were found to have the least effect on target analyte concentrations, while high-density polyethylene bottles had the most impact. Ascorbic acid, sodium thiosulfate, and sodium sulfite were determined to be acceptable quenching agents and preservation with sodium azide at 4 °C led to the stability of the most target compounds. A combination of amber glass bottles, ascorbic acid, and sodium azide preserved analyte concentrations for 28 days in the tested matrices when held at 4 °C. Samples without a preservation agent were determined to be stable for all but two of the analytes when stored in amber glass bottles at 4 °C for 72 h. Results suggest that if improper protocols are utilized, reported concentrations of target PPCPs and steroids may be inaccurate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2227-2234
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Emerging contaminants
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Preservation
  • Sample collection
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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