Electrochemical removal of Terbuthylazine:Boron-Doped Diamond anode coupled with solid polymer electrolyte.Environ Pollut. 2019 Aug; 251:285-291.EP
Terbuthylazine (TBA) has replaced atrazine in many EU countries, becoming one of the most frequently detected pesticides in natural waters. TBA is a compound of emerging concern, due to its persistence, toxicity and proven endocrine disruption activity to wildlife and humans. Techniques applied in water treatment plants remove only partially this herbicide and poor attention is given to the generation and fate of by-products, although some of them have demonstrated an estrogenic activity comparable to atrazine. This paper summarizes the environmental occurrence of TBA and its main metabolite desethylterbuthylazine and reports the performance of an innovative electrochemical cell equipped with a solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) sandwiched between a Ti/RuO2 cathode and a Boron-Doped Diamond anode, operating at constant current, in the treatment of an aqueous solution of TBA. The herbicide removal in the first 30 min of treatment increases from 42% to 92% as the applied current is increased from 100 to 500 mA. The rate of degradation at 500 mA decreases between 30 and 60 min, with a final abatement of 97%. An 89% removal was reached at 100 mA when the initial TBA concentration was raised from 0.1 to 4 mg L-1 and less than 1% of the herbicide was converted in desethylterbuthylazine and minor metabolites. No chemicals are needed, no sludge is produced. Further research is encouraged, as this technology may be promising for the achievement of a zero-discharge removal of different emerging pollutants as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products.