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The sustainable development of human activities is directly related to the protection of the environment by lowering the anthropogenic stress. Pharmaceuticals – due to their growing consumption (use in medicine, veterinary, animal production, cosmetics) and their incomplete removal in wastewater treatment plants – are classified as a group of new and rapidly emerging pollutants which have been proven to have a negative impact onto water organisms. In order to ensure the proper protection of human health and the environment there is an urgent necessity of determining pharmaceuticals in clinical, cosmetic, food and environmental samples. Gas (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) are valuable techniques for such determination, especially when they are coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS; LC-MS) or tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS; LC-MS/MS). The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of sustainability features of analytical techniques in the light of necessity to determine trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the aforementioned different matrices. Using the Delphi method we performed an analysis of the key sources of the competitive advantages of the application of GC and GC-MS techniques for determining the pharmaceutical residue in clinical, cosmetic, food and environmental samples – compared to techniques based on HPLC or LC-MS. The analysis covered the following areas: (i) the features of the technique, (ii) the price, and (iii) the applicability in various sectors of economy.
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