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Analysis of emerging organic contaminants in water, fish, and suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the Joint Danube Survey using solid-phase extraction followed by UHPLC-MS-MS and GC-MS analysis

In the third Joint Danube Survey (JDS3), emerging organic contaminants were analysed in the dissolved water phase of samples from the Danube River and its major tributaries. Analyses were performed using solid-phase extraction (SPE) followed by ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS-MS) and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The polar organic compounds analysed by UHPLC-MS-MS were 1H-benzotriazole, methylbenzotriazoles, carbamazepine, 10,11-dihydro-10,11-dihydroxy-carbamazepine, diclofenac, sulfamethox-azole, 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), MCPA (2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid), metolachlor, cybutryne (irgarol), terbutryn, DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), and several perfluoroalkyl acids (C6–C9; C8 = perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)) and perfluorooctansulfonic acid (PFOS). In addition, several organophosphorus flame retardants were analysed by GC-MS. The most relevant compounds identified in the 71 water samples, in terms of highest median and maximum concentrations, were 1H-benzotriazole, tris(1-chloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TCPP), methylbenzotriazoles, carbama-zepine and its metabolite, DEET, sulfamethoxazole, tris(isobutyl)phosphate (TiBP), tris(2-chloroethyl)phosphate (TCEP), PFOA, PFOS and diclofenac. The concentrations of these compounds in the samples were generally below the environmental quality standard (EQS) threshold values, with the exception of PFOS, the concentration of which exceeded the annual average water EQS limit of 0.65 ng/L along the whole river, and also exceeded the fish biota EQS of 9.1 µg/kg. In addition, the proposed EQS for diclofenac, of 0.1 µg/L, was exceeded in the Arges River in Romania (255 ng/L).