Algae Removal of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs); Lake Mead

Bai X, Acharya K. Algae-mediated removal of selected pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) from Lake Mead water. The Science of the total environment. 2017 Jan 12. pii: S0048-9697(16)32890-X. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.192.

The persistence and fate of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the Lake Mead ecosystem are particularly important considering the potential ecological risks and human health impacts. This study evaluated the removal of five common PPCPs (i.e., trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, carbamazepine, ciprofloxacin, and triclosan) from Lake Mead water mediated by the green alga Nannochloris sp. The results from the incubation studies showed that trimethoprim and carbamazepine were highly resistant to uptake in the algal cultural medium and were measured at approximately 90%-100% of the applied dose after 14days of incubation. Sulfamethoxazole was found relatively persistent, with >60% of the applied dose remaining in the water after 14days, and its removal was mainly caused by algae-mediated photolysis. However, ciprofloxacin and triclosan dissipated significantly and nearly 100% of the compounds were removed from the water after 7days of incubation under 24h of light. Ciprofloxacin and triclosan were highly susceptible to light, and their estimated half-lives were 12.7hours for ciprofloxacin and 31.2hours for triclosan. Algae-mediated sorption contributed to 11% of the removal of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, 13% of the removal of carbamazepine, and 27% of the removal of triclosan from the lake water. This research showed that 1) trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole, and carbamazepine are quite persistent in aquatic environments and may potentially affect human health via drinking water intake; 2) photolysis is the dominant pathway to remove ciprofloxacin from aquatic ecosystems, which indicates that ciprofloxacin may have lower ecological risks compared with other PPCPs; and 3) triclosan can undergo photolysis as well as algae-mediated uptake and it may potentially affect the food web because of its high toxicity to aquatic species.

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