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Biotransformation of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs ) during Nitrification: The Role of Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria versus Heterotrophic Bacteria

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Preliminary experiments to investigate the fate of 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) during nitrification were conducted. Sorption experiments were performed by incubating inactivated ammonia oxidizing bacteria and various heterotrophic cultures in the presence of 14C-EE2 at 10–15 μg/L. Biotransformation experiments utilized LC-MS and LC-ITMS analysis of supernatant collected during batch cultivation of monoculture of Nitrosomonas europaea with EE2.

Results confirmed that sorption of EE2 onto biomass is an important mechanism that must be considered when describing the fate of EE2 during nitrification. Enhanced sorption to predominantly heterotrophic cultures versus ammonia oxidizing cultures was also observed at the concentrations utilized in these experiments. During batch incubation with N. europaea, 98% of EE2 was transformed. Three metabolites designated EM1 and EM2 (-340 m/z) and EM3 (-385 m/z) were detected over 28.5 days of incubation with EM1 and EM2 being generated after 5 days of incubation. EM3 was detected between 8 days and 20 days but was observed to dissipate between day 20 to day 28.5. Both EM1 and EM2 were detected over the entire course of the experiment. Short term inhibition study results also suggest that inhibition of respiration in N. europaea as measured through oxygen uptake rates will not be significant at concentrations at or below 10 μg EE2/L. Future experiments will provide further information regarding the fate of these PPCPs under physiological conditions typical of treatment plants.

Keywords: 17α-ethinylestradiol; Micropollutants; N. Europaea; Nitrification; Sorption

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 29, 2007

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