Optimized suspect screening approach for a comprehensive assessment of the impact of best management practices in reducing micropollutants transport in the Potomac River watershed


The vast number of chemicals potentially reaching aquatic environment pose a challenge in maintaining the quality of water resources. However, best management practices to improve water quality are typically focused on reducing nutrient transport without assessing how these practices may impact the occurrence of micropollutants. The potential for co-management of nutrients and organic micropollutants exists, but few studies have comprehensively evaluated the suite of contaminants associated with different water quality management practices (riparian zone restoration, stormwater management, etc.). Furthermore, most studies dealing with the determination of micropollutants in environmental samples include only a limited number of target analytes, leaving many contaminants undetected. To address this limitation, there has been a gradual shift in environmental monitoring from using target analysis to either suspect screening analysis (SSA) or non-targeted analysis (NTA), which relies on accurate mass measurements, mass spectral fragmentation patterns, and retention time information obtained using liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry. The work presented in this paper focuses on a wide-scope detection of micropollutants in surface water samples from the Potomac River watershed (United States). An in-house database composed of 1039 compounds based on experimental analysis of primary standards was established, and SSA workflow was optimized and applied to determine the presence of micropollutants in surface water. A total of 103 micropollutants were detected in the samples, some of which are contaminants that were not previously monitored and belong to various classes such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other persistent industrial chemicals. The impact of best management practices being implemented for nitrogen and phosphorus reductions were also assessed for their potential to reduce micropollutant transport. This work illustrates the advantages of suspect screening methods to determine a large number of micropollutants in environmental samples and reveals the potential to co-manage a diverse array of micropollutants based on shared transport and transformation mechanisms in watersheds.

Authors: Mary Grace E Guardian, Ping He, Alysson Bermudez, Shuiwang Duan, Sujay S Kaushal, Erik Rosenfeldt, Diana S Aga
; Full Source: Water research X 2021 Jan 19;11:100088. doi: 10.1016/j.wroa.2021.100088.