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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Binding of waterborne pharmaceutical and personal care products to natural dissolved organic matter

Rizzuto, Simone; Baho, Didier L.; Jones, Kevin C.; Zhang, Hao; Leu, Eva; Nizzetto, Luca


Information on how key environmental conditions such as natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) and water pH alter the possible risks posed by pharmaceuticals (PPCPs) is still scarce. In our previous study, the presence of nat-ural DOM at high pH reduced the toxicity of a mix of waterborne PPCPs to algae. DOM-complexation and pH ef-fect on speciation of the more hydrophobic and neutral compounds of the mix was suggested to be driving this behaviour. However, the study design did not allow the verification of this hypothesis. Here, the DOM-PPCPs in-teraction at different pH was investigated for 6 PPCPs through equilibrium dialysis, under the same conditions of DOM and pH as our previous study. Association with DOM was confirmed for the more hydrophobic PPCPs at high pH. The results suggest the binding was driven by i) the presence of carboxylic groups of PPCPs, ii) high pH shifting the structural configuration of DOM, making it more suited to bind some of the PPCPs. A non-linear change of binding capacity with increasing DOM concentration was also observed among the tested PPCPs. (c) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


Natural dissolved organic matter; Pharmaceuticals and personal care products; Water chemistry; Binding

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2021, volume: 784, article number: 147208
Publisher: ELSEVIER

Authors' information

Rizzuto, Simone
Lancaster University
Ludovic Baho, Didier (Ludovic Baho, Didier)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Baho, Didier L. (Baho, Didier L.)
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
Jones, Kevin C.
Lancaster University
Zhang, Hao
Lancaster University
Leu, Eva
Centre for Interdisiplinary Environmental and Social Research (CIENS)
Nizzetto, Luca
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water
SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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