Detection of anticancer drugs in wastewater effluents: Grab versus passive sampling

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The occurrence of six anticancer drugs was evaluated in wastewater effluents. Several grab samples from wastewater effluent were collected throughout a year. Capecitabine, cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide were detected at concentrations ranging from 8 to 46 ng·L−1. Capecitabine was detected in all the sampling events whereas cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide were detected less frequently. Additionally, the suitability of using pharmaceutical-polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS) to monitor the target drugs in wastewater effluents was assessed. Capecitabine, ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide were detected with POCIS and showed a linear uptake over 15 days. The sampling rates, determined in situ, were used to estimate time-weighted average concentrations. A good correlation was found between the concentration of capecitabine detected with POCIS deployed during five days (32 ± 1 ng·L−1) and the average concentrations obtained in grab samples. The use of passive samplers has advantages over grab samples: easier analysis, less time and costs associated with the analytical method. Passive samplers also provide a time-weighted information about the concentration of pollutants in the aquatic environment. However, information may be lost when the concentration of the target compounds in wastewater effluents is low and the passive samplers are deployed for a short time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147477
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2021


  • Anticancer drugs
  • Grab samples
  • In situ calibration
  • Occurrence
  • Passive samplers
  • Wastewater effluent


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