Posted in | Materials Analysis

Thermo Fisher Mass Spectrometry Water Monitoring Technology Detects Drugs in Drinking Water of Americans

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world leader in serving science, today responded to national concerns surrounding the discovery of pharmaceutical compounds in U.S. drinking water by publicizing its mass spectrometry water monitoring technology currently in use in Canada and Europe. The Associated Press (AP) recently reported that a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. The Thermo Scientific mass spectrometry systems rapidly identify and quantify these compounds, enabling municipalities to monitor the safety of their water supplies.

Recently the University of Montreal worked with Environment Canada to identify and quantify pharmaceutical residues present in the city’s waste and drinking water. To conduct this research, the University used a Thermo Scientific EQuan™ Environmental Quantitation system incorporating the TSQ Quantum™ mass spectrometer. The system detected six common anti-infectives in the water, including Azithromycin, a potent antibiotic used to treat certain bacterial infections in the ear, throat or sinuses. The results from this study were published by the Journal of Environmental Monitoring in March 2007 (J. Environ. Monit., 2007, 9, 307–313).

“Continuous exposure of young children to these low levels of antibiotics is of great concern to me as a chemist and a parent,” says Dipankar Ghosh. Ph.D., Strategic Marketing Manager, Environment & Food Safety, at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The quantities are minute – parts per trillion – the equivalent of one drop in twenty Olympic-sized swimming pools. However, the effect of continuous exposure over time is unknown.”

Non-metabolized antibiotics excreted by humans can enter the sewage system in low concentrations. These chemicals can pass untreated simply because municipal plants are not engineered to identify or remove them, thereby releasing them into the environment where they may eventually be ingested through drinking water.

Thermo Scientific mass spectrometry solutions are designed for reliable and accurate analysis of water samples, specifically trace levels of pharmaceuticals, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and veterinary products. During the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP investigation discovered these types of drugs had been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas in the United States.

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