Sorption and toxicity reduction of pharmaceutically active compounds and endocrine disrupting chemicals in the presence of colloidal humic acid

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study investigated the toxicity changes and sorption of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupters in the presence of humic acid (HA). For the sorption experiment, a dead end filtration (DEF) system was used to separate bound and free-form target compounds. An algae growth inhibition test and E-screen assay were conducted to estimate the toxic effect of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), respectively. The permeate concentration was confirmed using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. In the sorption test, we observed significant sorption of PhACs and EDCs on colloidal HA, except for sulfamethoxazole (SMX). The values of log KCOC derived from DEF determinations ranged from 4.40 to 5.03. The removal efficiency varied with the HA concentration and the target chemical properties. Tetracycline and 4-octylphenol showed the highest sorption or removal efficiency (≈50%), even at 5 mg C/L HA. The algal growth inhibition of PhACs and the estrogenic effects of EDCs were significantly decreased in proportion to HA concentrations, except for SMX. In addition, the chemical analysis results showed a positive relationship with the bioassay results. Consequently, the sorption of PhACs and EDCs onto colloidal HA should be emphasized in natural environments because it significantly reduces bioavailable concentrations and toxicity to aquatic organisms.

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