Effluents of biological sewage treatment plants mainly contain non-biodegradable, polar, organic pollutants of biogenic and anthropogenic origin. This paper presents a substance-specific determination method for these compounds, which are partly able to reach drinking water during the soil filtration process. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) combined with softly ionizing interfaces is applied for this purpose. The behaviour of the functional groups of these pollutants - forming characteristic fragment ions under MS/MS conditions and abstracting neutral particles - is used for detection. With help from this screening process on specific functional groups it is possible to establish the presence of substance groups with similar behaviour in the aquatic environment. Additionally this analytical procedure provides information on the molar mass of the pollutants detected. In a second step the compounds characterized by the molar mass and belonging to a group of pollutants with specific functional groups can be identified using MS/MS.

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