Binding of waterborne pharmaceutical and personal care products to natural dissolved organic matter
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScience of the Total Environment. 2021, 784, 147208. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147208
Information on how key environmental conditions such as natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) and water pH alter the possible risks posed by pharmaceuticals (PPCPs) is still scarce. In our previous study, the presence of natural DOM at high pH reduced the toxicity of a mix of waterborne PPCPs to algae. DOM-complexation and pH effect on speciation of the more hydrophobic and neutral compounds of the mix was suggested to be driving this behaviour. However, the study design did not allow the verification of this hypothesis. Here, the DOM- PPCPs interaction at different pH was investigated for 6 PPCPs through equilibrium dialysis, under the same conditions of DOM and pH as our previous study. Association with DOM was confirmed for the more hydrophobic PPCPs at high pH. The results suggest the binding was driven by i) the presence of carboxylic groups of PPCPs, ii) high pH shifting the structural configuration of DOM, making it more suited to bind some of the PPCPs. A non-linear change of binding capacity with increasing DOM concentration was also observed among the tested PPCPs.