Analytical Chemistry

In-situ Multi-Mode Extraction (iMME) sampler for a wide-scope multi-residue analysis of > 100 chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) and antimicrobial resistance genes in the aqueous environment in urban areas and remote (off-the-grid) locations



Chemical pollution (including chemicals of emerging concern – CECs) continues to gain increasing attention as a global threat to human health and the environment, with numerous reports on the adverse and sometimes devasting effects upon ecosystems the presence of these chemicals can have. Whilst many studies have investigated presence of CECs in aquatic environments, these studies have been focused on higher income countries, leaving significant knowledge gaps for many low-middle income countries. This study proposes a new integrated powerless, in-situ multi-mode extraction (iMME) sampler for the analysis of chemicals (105 chemicals of emerging concern, CECs) and biological (5 genes) markers in water in contrasting settings: an urbanized Avon River in the UK and remote Olifants River in Kruger National Park in South Africa. The overarching goal was to develop a sampling device that maintains integrity of a diverse range of analytes via analyte immobilization using polymeric and glass fibre materials, without access to power supply or cold chain for sample transportation. Chemical analysis was achieved using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Several mobile CECs showed low stability in river water, at room temperature and typical 24h sampling/transport time. It is therefore recommended that, in the absence of cooling, environmental water samples are spiked with internal standards on site, immediately after collection and analyte immobilization option is considered. iMME has proven effective in immobilization, concentration and increased stability of CECs at room temperature (and at least 7 days storage) allowing for sample collection at remote locations. The results from the River Avon and Olifants River sampling indicate that the pristine environment of Olifants catchment is largely unaffected by CECs common in the urbanized River Avon in the UK with a few exceptions: lifestyle chemicals (e.g., caffeine, nicotine and their metabolites), paracetamol and UV filters due to tourism and carbamazepine due to its persistent nature. iMME equipped with an additional gene extraction capability provides an exciting new opportunity of comprehensive biochemical profiling of aqueous samples with one powerless in-situ device. Further work is required to provide full integration of the device and comprehensive assessment of performance in both chemical and biological targets.


Thumbnail image of Sims et al_iMME_paper_April_2022.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of Sims et al_iMME_supplemantary_April_2022.pdf