Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education


The goal of this project is to develop liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) methods for the analysis of different, novel micropollutants in waste water and natural water. Micropollutants are compounds that can exert adverse environmental and human health effects at low concentrations. Most of these compounds include personal care products and pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics and controlled substances. In the first part of this study, we focused in the analysis of illicit drugs and drug metabolites because these analyses have the potential to serve as markers of drug abuse. We have detected over sixteen different illicit drugs and their metabolites in wastewater taken from a small school campus in northern Illinois. The most abundant and consistent drugs found in the wastewater were cannabinol, amphetamines and cocaine. The concentrations of these drugs are being monitored at regular time intervals for the purpose of determining the total drug consumption of a targeted population. This type of drug testing (of small, demographically well-defined populations) has the potential to provide a more accurate snapshot of drug use than surveys (which are currently used) that rely on self-reporting. The information about drug consumption acquired through wastewater testing can inform public health initiatives and anti-drug campaigns without being personally invasive. The success of these initiatives can be measured by making wastewater measurements before and after they are undertaken.

In the second part of this study, we developed a method that would allow us to determine the identities of unknown or novel chemicals contributing to water pollution. We applied full scan tandem mass spectrometric techniques such as constant neutral loss scan and precursor ion scan to detect novel pollutants in water. We detected over 160 glucuronides metabolites and over 60 chlorinated organic compounds in influents by constant neutral loss scanning method. Then by two different precursor ion scanning methods, we detected over 80 chlorinated organic compounds in influents. In the Lake water samples, we detected about 36 glucuronide metabolites and about 22 chlorinated organic compounds which were analyzed by constant neutral loss and precursor ion scan methods respectively. The identities of these compounds may be inferred through accurate mass analysis of molecule and product ions. Once the identity of a potential pollutant is determined, quantification in water may be done by isotope dilution mass spectrometry. We anticipate many of these micropollutants (derived from pharmaceuticals and personal care products) may exert adverse effects on biota and humans at low concentrations upon continuous exposure from sources such as drinking water.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.