Development of Fluorescence Surrogates to Predict the Photochemical Transformation of Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Effluents

Shuwen Yan, Bo Yao, Lushi Lian, Xinchen Lu, Shane A. Snyder, Rui Li, Weihua Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The photochemical transformation of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in wastewater effluents is an emerging concern for environmental scientists. In the current study, the photodegradation of 29 PPCPs was examined in effluents under simulated solar irradiation. Direct photodegradation, triplet state effluent organic matter (3EfOM∗)-mediated and hydroxyl radical (HO)-mediated degradation are three major pathways in the removal process. With the photodegradation of trace levels of PPCPs, the excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence intensities of the effluents were also gradually reduced. Therefore, fluorescence peaks have been identified, for the first time, as appropriate surrogates to assess the photodegradation of PPCPs. The humic-like fluorescence peak is linked to direct photolysis-labile PPCPs, such as naproxen, ronidazole, diclofenac, ornidazole, tinidazole, chloramphenicol, flumequine, ciprofloxacin, methadone, and dimetridazole. The tyrosine-like EEM peak is associated with HO/CO3•--labile PPCPs, such as trimethoprim, ibuprofen, gemfibrozil, atenolol, carbamazepine, and cephalexin. The tryptophan-like peak is associated with 3EfOM∗-labile PPCPs, such as clenbuterol, metoprolol, venlafaxine, bisphenol A, propranolol, ractopamine, salbutamol, roxithromycin, clarithromycin, azithromycin, famotidine, terbutaline, and erythromycin. The reduction in EEM fluorescence correlates well with the removal of PPCPs, allowing a model to be constructed. The solar-driven removal of EEM fluorescence was applied to predict the attenuation of 11 PPCPs in five field samples. A close correlation between the predicted results and the experimental results suggests that fluorescence may be a suitable surrogate for monitoring the solar-driven photodegradation of PPCPs in effluents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2738-2747
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 7 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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