Quantifying PPCP interaction with dissolved organic matter in aqueous solution: Combined use of fluorescence quenching and tandem mass spectrometry

Selene Hernandez-Ruiz, Leif Abrell, Samanthi Wickramasekara, Benny Chefetz, Jon Chorover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The documented presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in water sources has prompted a global interest in understanding their environmental fate. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) can potentially alter the fate of these contaminants in aqueous systems by forming contaminant-DOM complexes. In-situ measurements were made to assess the interactions between three common PPCP contaminants and two distinct DOM sources: a wastewater treatment plant (WWOM) and the Suwannee River, GA (SROM). Aqueous DOM solutions (8.0mgL-1 C, pH 7.4) were spiked with a range of concentrations of bisphenol-A, carbamazepine and ibuprofen to assess the DOM fluorophores quenched by PPCP interaction in excitation-emission matrices (EEM). Interaction effects on target analyte (PPCP) concentrations were also quantified using direct aqueous injection ultra high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). At low bisphenol-A concentration, WWOM fluorescence was quenched in an EEM region attributed to microbial byproduct-like and humic acid-like DOM components, whereas carbamazepine and ibuprofen quenched fulvic acid-like fluorophores. Fluorescence quenching of SROM by bisphenol-A and carbamazepine was centered on humic acid-like components, whereas ibuprofen quenched the fulvic acid-like fluorophores. Nearly complete LC-MS/MS recovery of all three contaminants was obtained, irrespective of analyte structure and DOM source, indicating relatively weak PPCP-DOM bonding interactions. The results suggest that presence of DOM at environmentally-relevant concentration can give rise to PPCP interactions that could potentially affect their environmental transport, but these DOM-contaminant interactions do not suppress the accurate assessment of target analyte concentrations by aqueous injection LC-MS/MSMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-954
Number of pages12
JournalWater research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2012


  • DOM
  • Fluorescence
  • IHSS
  • Interaction
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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