Potential analytical interferences and seasonal variability in diethyltoluamide environmental monitoring programs

Sylvain Merel, Andrey I. Nikiforov, Shane A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), the active component of many insect repellents, is among the most frequently detected compounds in aqueous environments with concentrations reported in the ngL-1 to μgL-1 range. However, DEET is often detected in blanks and reported concentrations differ significantly depending on the analytical technique employed. In addition, relatively sparse data are available regarding the seasonal variability of DEET concentrations in water and there are apparent inconsistencies with expected use patterns. Therefore, the present study investigates potential interferences affecting the detection and quantification of DEET then the geographical and seasonal variations of DEET concentrations. To examine potential analytical interferences, DEET was analyzed in five geographically-diverse wastewater effluents using both gas chromatography and liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometric detectors. At times, the concentrations quantified by the employed analytical methods varied significantly. Five compounds with similar molecular weights and structures as DEET were investigated as potential mimics and some were shown to induce an overestimation of DEET. Further experimentation suggested that the solvents used in sample preparation and HPLC analysis are another possible source of interference. Besides potential interferences, the seven-month weekly monitoring of DEET in the primary effluent of a wastewater treatment plant demonstrated a clear seasonal trend with decreasing concentration from summer to winter. These data collectively demonstrate that there are many challenges in the quantification of DEET in complex environmental samples and that co-occurrence of similarly structured substances present in the water sample and/or the solvents used for the analysis could induce analytical bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalChemosphere
Volume127
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

Keywords

  • DEET
  • Insect repellent
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Mimic
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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