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Multi-year inter-laboratory exercises for the analysis of illicit drugs and metabolites in wastewater: Development of a quality control system

Alexander L.N. van Nuijs, Foon Yin Lai, Frederic Been, Maria Jesus Andres-Costa, Leon Barron, Jose Antonio Baz-Lomba, Jean-Daniel Berset, Lisa Benaglia, Lubertus Bijlsma, Dan Burgard, Sara Castiglioni, Christophoros Christophoridis, Adrian Covaci, Pim de Voogt, Erik Emke, Despo Fatta-Kassinos, Jerker Fick, Felix Hernandez, Cobus Gerber, Iria González-Mariño, Roman Grabic, Teemu Gunnar, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Sara Karolak, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Zenon Kokot, Ivona Krizman-Matasic, Angela Li, Xiqing Li, Arndís S.C. Löve, Miren Lopez de Alda, Ann-Kathrin McCall, Markus R. Meyer, Herbert Oberacher, Jake O'Brien, Jose Benito Quintana, Malcolm Reid, Serge Schneider, Susana Sadler Simoes, Nikolaos S. Thomaidis, Kevin Thomas, Viviane Yargeau, Christoph Ort
Trends in analytical chemistry 2018 v.103 pp. 34-43
drug residues, epidemiology, exercise, filtration, illicit drugs, metabolites, pH, quality control, wastewater
Thirty-seven laboratories from 25 countries present the development of an inter-laboratory testing scheme for the analysis of seven illicit drug residues in standard solutions, tap- and wastewater. Almost 10 000 concentration values were evaluated: triplicates of up to five samples and 26 laboratories per year. The setup was substantially improved with experiences gained across the six repetitions (e.g. matrix type, sample conditions, spiking levels). From this, (pre-)analytical issues (e.g. pH adjustment, filtration) were revealed for specific analytes which resulted in formulation of best-practice protocols for inter-laboratory setup and analytical procedures. The results illustrate the effectiveness of the inter-laboratory setup to assess laboratory performance in the framework of wastewater-based epidemiology. The exercise proved that measurements of laboratories were of high quality (>80% satisfactory results for six out of seven analytes) and that analytical follow-up is important to assist laboratories in improving robustness of wastewater-based epidemiology results.