Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 11, pp 6735–6748 | Cite as

Application of chemometrics in understanding the spatial distribution of human pharmaceuticals in surface water

  • Najat Ahmed Al-Odaini
  • Mohamad Pauzi Zakaria
  • Muniirah Abdul Zali
  • Hafizan Juahir
  • Mohamad Ismail Yaziz
  • Salmijah Surif


The growing interest in the environmental occurrence of veterinary and human pharmaceuticals is essentially due to their possible health implications to humans and ecosystem. This study assesses the occurrence of human pharmaceuticals in a Malaysian tropical aquatic environment taking a chemometric approach using cluster analysis, discriminant analysis and principal component analysis. Water samples were collected from seven sampling stations along the heavily populated Langat River basin on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and its main tributaries. Water samples were extracted using solid-phase extraction and analyzed using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for 18 pharmaceuticals and one metabolite, which cover a range of six therapeutic classes widely consumed in Malaysia. Cluster analysis was applied to group both pharmaceutical pollutants and sampling stations. Cluster analysis successfully clustered sampling stations and pollutants into three major clusters. Discriminant analysis was applied to identify those pollutants which had a significant impact in the definition of clusters. Finally, principal component analysis using a three-component model determined the constitution and data variance explained by each of the three main principal components.


Human pharmaceuticals Aquatic pollution Chemometrics Langat River Malaysia 



This work was financially supported by funding from Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) under the Science Fund (project number 5450100). The authors would like to thank the Public Health Lab of the Veterinary Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and Fisheries for their generous support in the performance of the LC-MS/MS procedures. The authors are grateful to the Sewage Service Department for providing the sewage information in the Langat basin.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Najat Ahmed Al-Odaini
    • 1
  • Mohamad Pauzi Zakaria
    • 1
  • Muniirah Abdul Zali
    • 1
  • Hafizan Juahir
    • 2
  • Mohamad Ismail Yaziz
    • 2
  • Salmijah Surif
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence for Environmental Forensics, Faculty of Environmental StudiesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Environmental StudiesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  3. 3.School of Environment and Natural Resources Science, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia

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