On the occasional biodegradation of pharmaceuticals in the activated sludge process: the example of the antibiotic sulfamethoxazole

P Drillia, S N Dokianakis, M S Fountoulakis, M Kornaros, K Stamatelatou, G Lyberatos
Journal of Hazardous Materials 2005 July 15, 122 (3): 259-65
Sulfamethoxazole, a common antibiotic, was found to be biodegradable under aerobic conditions. The fate of sulfamethoxazole in the activated sludge process was studied using a Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR). Aerobic biomass was acclimated to sulfamethoxazole and a series of kinetic experiments were conducted to investigate the impact of other carbon and nitrogen sources on the degradation of the antibiotic. It was found that sulfamethoxazole serves both as carbon and nitrogen source for the enriched consortium. It was degraded whenever there was a depletion of carbon or nitrogen or both in the feeding medium, while in the presence of acetate and ammonium nitrogen (alternative carbon and nitrogen sources, respectively), sulfamethoxazole remained intact.

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