New Endocrine Disruptor System Tested on Wastewater

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Scientists from University of São Paulo recently developed a system that uses automated microextraction by packed sorbent followed by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (MEPS-LC–MS/MS) to better identify endocrine disruptors in wastewater samples (1).

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals, natural or man-made, that may negatively interfere with the body’s hormones. These can be found in various products, from cosmetics to toys and pesticides. Exposure can impact the body’s endocrine functioning by creating small changes in hormone levels that can cause significant developmental and biological effects, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (2). As such, early detection is vital to protecting public health.

The scientists, whose work was published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, developed their system to detect four endocrine disruptors in wastewater: parabens, benzophenones, and synthetic phenolic antioxidants (1). Combining automated microextraction by packed sorbent followed by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (MEPS-LC–MS/MS), the method also utilizes a lab-made repackable MEPS device and a multi-syringe robotic platform that provides flexibility. This latter pairing allowed for the testing of small quantities of multiple extraction phases and allowed for high-throughput capabilities for efficient method development. The overall performance of the procedure was studied through both uni- and multivariate experiments, with conditions such as the investigation of influencing variables and the optimization of operational parameters for the robotic platform.


Target analytes were best extracted from a small sample volume of 1.5 mL, with competitive detectability and analytical confidence. Limits of detection ranged from 0.15 to 0.30 ng/L-1, while intra-day and inter-day relative standard deviations were between 3 and 21%. The method was properly demonstrated by determining methylparaben, propylparaben, butylated hydroxyanisole, and oxybenzone in wastewater samples collected from the São Carlos (SP, Brazil) river. The experiments show potential for this method to be fast, reliable, and environmentally friendly for water quality monitoring.


(1) Bocelli, M. D.; Medina, D. A. V.; Lanças, F. M.; Santos-Neto, A. J. D. Automated microextraction by packed sorbent of endocrine disruptors in wastewater using a high-throughput robotic platform followed by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2023. DOI:

(2) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Endocrine Disruptors. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 2023. (accessed 2023-09-07)