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Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Canadian Environment: Research and Policy Directions

4.5 Developing a Consistent Framework for Chemical Analysis

Analytical chemistry methods that quantify PPCPs in environmental matrices establish environmentally relevant concentrations that guide effects research and enable monitoring programs. The need for accurate, precise analytical methods that cover a wide range of PPCPs parent compounds and metabolites in surface water, groundwater, wastewater, drinking water, sediment, sludge, biosolids, manures, and biota, and the need for increased laboratory capacity across Canada were identified in all discussions.

The 2004 workshop “Towards a Monitoring Network” identified the need for collaboration between analytical laboratories, both domestic and international, to validate and compare methods for accuracy and precision, improve the exchange of knowledge, and reduce duplication in method development and research efforts. Discussions at this workshop recommended a framework designed to accomplish the following:

  • A method compendium that is matrix dependent (acknowledging that matrices can vary);
  • A mechanism to communicate methods with their respective method validation and QA/QC data;
  • A data quality objective statement to characterize the method of QA/QC and the validation data requirements; and
  • Performance criteria to ensure consistent data quality for conducting routine sample analysis.

Laboratory testing of water contaminants | Photo: Photos.comAll workshop participants are stakeholders for this action item. It was recommended that a national entity be formed, with international collaboration with organizations such as ERAPharm, the USEPA, or the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Ontario Ministry of the Environment Laboratory Services Branch, the Information and Quality Management group of Environment Canada, or the Canadian Association of Environmental Analytical Laboratories (CAEAL) have the experience to begin forming such a framework.

The next steps identified for this action item include:

  • Interested laboratories need to take the initiative to coordinate and establish effective communication channels;
  • These communication channels should ensure the sharing of validated methods, associated performance indicators (such as operation QC/QA data), and matrix effects and details;
  • Gather knowledge on the current state of analytical science;
  • Identify a group of target compounds from sources such as existing occurrence data, usage data, market data, toxicity data, risk assessment indicators, and the available analytical method of participant laboratories;
  • Create Standard/Certified Reference Materials (SRM, CRM), and start an inter-laboratory round robin to obtain data and compare results;
  • Expand the collaboration to make the most cost-effective use of resources in the development of new methods and acquisition of standards; and
  • Establish long-term funding sources.