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Electrochemical degradation of key drugs to treat COVID-19: experimental analysis of the toxic by-products formation (PCDD/Fs)

Abstract: Drug consumption has grown exponentially in recent decades, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to their presence in various water sources. In this way, degradation technologies for pollutants, such as electrochemical oxidation (ELOX), have become crucial to safeguard the quality of natural resources. This study has as its starting point a previous research, which demonstrated the efficacy of ELOX in the removal of COVID-19 related-drugs, such as dexamethasone (DEX), paracetamol (PAR), amoxicillin (AMX), and sertraline (STR), using the electrolytes NaCl and Na2SO4. The present research aims to study the potential risks associated with the generation of toxic by-products, during the ELOX of cited drugs, specifically focusing on the highly chlorinated persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs). Dioxins and furans can be formed potentially in electrochemical systems from precursor molecules or non-precursor molecules in chloride medium. First, the degradation of the parent compounds was found to be complete. At this point, a comprehensive investigation was conducted to identify and analyse the by-products formed during the degradation process; precursors of PCDD/Fs, such as chlorophenols or hydroquinones were identified. Additionally, in continuation of the previous study, PCDD/Fs congeners were investigated, revealing elevated concentrations; the highest concentration obtained was for the congener 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF (234.6 pg L-1 in NaCl) during degradation of the AMX. Finally, an assessment of the toxicity based on TEQ values was conducted, with DEX exhibiting the highest concentration among all compounds: 30.1 pg L-1 for NaCl medium. Therefore, the formation of minor by-products should not be underestimated, as they can significantly enhance the toxicity of the final sample, so the selection of the appropriate remediation technology, as well as the optimization of experimental operating variables, is determining in the treatment of pharmaceutical-contaminated waters.

 Autoría: Schröder S., Ortiz I., San-Román M.F.,

 Fuente: Science of the Total Environment, 2024, 906, 167660

 Editorial: Elsevier

 Fecha de publicación: 01/01/2024

 Nº de páginas: 13

 Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.167660

 ISSN: 0048-9697,1879-1026

 Proyecto español: PID2020-115409RB-I00

 Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.167660