Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 36724–36735 | Cite as

Synthesis of a molecularly imprinted polymer and its application in selective extraction of fenoprofen from wastewater

  • Zama Emmaculate Mbhele
  • Somandla Ncube
  • Lawrence Mzukisi MadikizelaEmail author
Research Article


The presence of various classes of pharmaceutical drugs in different environmental compartments has been reported worldwide. In South Africa, the detection of pharmaceuticals especially the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is recent, and more studies are being done in order to fully understand their fate in the aquatic environment. With considerations for the need of better sample preparation techniques, this study synthesized a molecularly imprinted polymer for the selective extraction of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, fenoprofen in aqueous environmental samples. Batch adsorption studies showed that adsorption of fenoprofen onto the cavities of the polymer followed a Langmuir isotherm as well as a pseudo second order model implying formation of a monolayer on the surface through chemisorption. The polymer had a maximum adsorption capacity of 38.8 mg g−1 and a Langmuir surface area of 1607 m2 g−1. The imprinted polymer was then used as the selective sorbent for solid phase extraction in the analysis of fenoprofen from wastewater followed by chromatographic determination. The analytical method gave a detection limit of 0.64 ng mL−1 and recovery of 99.6%. The concentration of fenoprofen detected in influent and effluent samples from two wastewater treatment plants ranged from 24 to 58 ng mL−1. The ability of the treatment plants to remove fenoprofen during wastewater processing based on the difference in concentrations in influent and effluent samples was found to be 41%. This work has shown that there is a possibility of release of fenoprofen from wastewater treatment plants into surface water sources.


Molecularly imprinted polymer Fenoprofen Wastewater Selective solid-phase extraction 



ethylene glycol dimethacrylate


molecularly imprinted solid-phase extraction


molecularly imprinted polymer


non-imprinted polymer


non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs


solid-phase extraction


wastewater treatment plant



This work was financially supported by National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant Number: 114415).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zama Emmaculate Mbhele
    • 1
  • Somandla Ncube
    • 2
  • Lawrence Mzukisi Madikizela
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryDurban University of TechnologyDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of South AfricaFloridaSouth Africa

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