Working with partners around the world, we developed a novel method for rapid global sample collection and high-throughput analysis for a broad suite of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. For the last decades, sensitive analysis of water required large volumes of water (e.g., 250mL-1L) and often complex and expensive sample preparation. For this project, we developed a small, handheld collection kit which can be rapidly shipped worldwide for collection of up to 24 water samples of only 4 mL each.
Using this method, for the first time we can bring complex analytical techniques such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) to places in the world where such technologies have never been used before for analysis of pharmaceuticals in the environment. The centre of excellence in mass spectrometry at the University of York is the central laboratory for all our samples collected worldwide. By basing all of our analysis in one lab using one method we can limit analytical variability and produce high-quality and truly globally-comparable data for the first time.