Aerobic biodegradation of emerging azole contaminants by return activated sludge and enrichment cultures

Kalyani V. Jog, Kendra Z. Hess, Jim A. Field, Mark J. Krzmarzick, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Azoles are an emerging class of contaminants with a growing ubiquitous presence in the environment. This study investigates the aerobic microbial degradation of four azoles, pyrazole (PA), 1,2,4-triazole (TA), benzotriazole (BTA) and 5-methylbenzotriazole (5-MBTA), with return activated sludge and microbial enrichment cultures. Slow degradation of PA was observed in the presence of glucose and NH4+ with a peak degradation rate of 0.5 mg d-1 gVSS-1. TA was found to be highly persistent, with no significant degradation observed in 6–8 months under any incubation condition. In contrast, the benzotriazoles were readily degraded at faster rates in all incubation conditions. The degradation rates observed for BTA and 5-MBTA, when provided as the sole substrates, were 8.1 and 16.5 mg d-1 gVSS-1, respectively. Two enrichment cultures, one degrading BTA and the other degrading 5-MBTA, were developed from the activated sludge. Mass balance studies revealed complete mineralization of 5-MBTA and partial breakdown of BTA by the enrichment cultures. Nocardioides sp. and Pandoraea pnomenusa were the most abundant bacteria in the BTA and 5-MBTA degrading enrichment cultures, respectively. The research shows large differences in the biodegradability of various azoles, ranging from complete mineralization of 5-MBTA to complete persistence for TA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126151
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Sep 5 2021


  • 1,2,4-triazole
  • 5-methylbenzotriazole
  • Aerobic biodegradation
  • Benzotriazole
  • Pyrazole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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