Sulfate radical-based oxidation of the antibiotics sulfamethoxazole, sulfisoxazole, sulfathiazole, and sulfamethizole: The role of five-membered heterocyclic rings.Sci Total Environ. 2019 Nov 20; 692:201-208.ST
The widespread occurrence of sulfonamides (SAs) in natural waters, wastewater, soil and sediment has raised increasing concerns about their potential risks to human health and ecological systems. Sulfate radical (SO4-)-based advanced oxidation processes (SR-AOPs) have become promising technologies to remove such contaminants in the environment. The present study systematically investigated the degradation of four selected SAs with different five-membered heterocyclic rings, namely, sulfamethoxazole (SMX), sulfisoxazole (SIX), sulfathiazole (STZ), and sulfamethizole (SMT), by thermo-activated persulfate (PS) process, and the role of heterocyclic rings was assessed particularly. The results revealed that all the selected SAs could be degraded efficiently by thermo-activated PS process and their decay rates were appreciably increased with increasing temperature. For instance, degradation rates of STZ increased from 0.3 × 10-3 to 19.5 × 10-3 min-1 as the temperature was increased from 30 to 60 °C. Under the same experimental conditions, the degradation rates of SAs followed the order of SIX > SMX ≈ STZ > SMT, which was in accordance with decay rates of their R-NH2 moieties. Kinetic results indicated that five-membered heterocyclic rings could serve as reactive moieties toward SO4- attack, which were confirmed by frontier electron density (FED) calculations. Based on the transformation products identified by high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS), five different oxidation pathways, including hydroxylation, aniline moiety oxidation, dimerization, sulfonamide bond cleavage, and heterocyclic ring oxidation/cleavage were proposed. Moreover, the degradation efficiency in real surface water (RSW) was found to be slightly slower than that in artificial surface water (ASW), suggesting that SR-AOPs could be an efficient approach for remediation of soil and water contaminated by these SAs.