Investigating the formation and toxicity of nitrogen transformation products of diclofenac and sulfamethoxazole in wastewater treatment plants

Victoria Osorio, Josep Sanchís, Jose Luís Abad, Antoni Ginebreda, Marinella Farré, Sandra Pérez, Damià Barceló
Journal of Hazardous Materials 2016 May 15, 309: 157-64
Diclofenac (DCF) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) are highly consumed pharmaceuticals and concentrated in effluents from conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) since they are not completely eliminated. Under microbial mediated nitrification/denitrification processes occurring in nitrifying activated sludge DCF biotransformed into its nitroso and nitro derivatives (NO-DCF and NO2-DCF, respectively). SMX was biotransformed under denitrification conditions in water/sediment batch reactors into its nitro and desamino derivatives (NO2-SMX and Des-SMX, respectively). Four transformation products (TPs) from DCF and SMX were analized in wastewaters (WW) and receiving surface waters (SW). Nitrifying/denitrifying-derivatives of DCF and SMX were detected for the first time in WW and SW at one order of magnitude lower than their parent compounds. Relationships observed among levels of NO-DCF, NO2-DCF and nitrogen-species tentatively suggested that nitrification/denitrification processes are involved in nitration and nitrosation of DCF during biological WW treatment. Acute toxicity of analytes to Daphnia magna and Vibrio fischeri was assessed individually and in mixtures with other relevant micropollutants. Individual effects showed these compounds as not harmful and not toxic. However, synergism effects observed in mixtures evidenced that contribution of these compounds to overall toxicity of complex environmental samples, should not be dismissed.

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