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The Enantiomics of Emerging Contaminants

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The beta-blocker pharmaceuticals propranolol and metoprolol are administered as racemates. In municipal wastewater treatment plants, propranolol underwent apparent enantioelective degradation during biological treatment. As a result, EF values for propranolol greater than 0.48 in surface water samples are indicative of raw sewage sources (e. g., leaking sewers, combined sewer overflows) while values below 0.45 are indicative of wastewater effluent sources and could be used for source identification. Metoprolol EF values did not change appreciably during wastewater treatment, with EF values in effluent ranging from 0.47 to 0.53 in wastewater effluent. However, in effluent-receiving waters, the EF values decreased as the compounds undergo biotransformation. In the Trinity River, an effluent-dominated river with a travel time of approximately two weeks, the concentrations of metoprolol decreased by over 90% and the EF values decreased to less than 0.35 as the water moved downstream.

Keywords: Beta-blocker; Chiral; Natural Attenuation; Sewer Overflow

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-07-29

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