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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Removal of 30 active pharmaceutical ingredients in surface water under long-term artificial UV irradiation

Blum, Kristin M.; Norstrom, Sara H.; Golovko, Oksana; Grabic, Roman; Jarhult, Josef D.; Koba, Olga; Lindstrom, Hanna Soderstrom


This study investigated the i) kinetics, and ii) proportion of photolysis of 30 relatively stable active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) during artificial UV irradiation for 28 d in ammonium acetate buffer, filtered and unfiltered river water. Buffer was included to control removal kinetics under stable pH conditions and without particulate matter. Dark controls were used to determine removal due to other processes than photolysis and calculate the proportion of photolysis of the total removal. The removal of each API in each matrix was determined using online solid phase extraction/liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (online SPE/LC-MS/MS). Most APIs transformed during the 28 d of UV irradiation and the dark controls showed that photolysis was the major removal process for the majority of the APIs studied. The half-lives ranged from 6 h (amitriptyline) in unfiltered river water to 884 h (37 d, carbamazepine) in buffer. In unfiltered river water, the proportion of APIs with short half-lives (<48 h) was much higher (29%) than in the other matrices (4%), probably due to additional organic carbon, which could have promoted indirect photolysis. Furthermore, two APIs, memantine and fluconazole, were stable in all three matrices, while alprazolam was stable in buffer and unfiltered river water and four additional APIs were stable in buffer. Considering the relatively long-term UV-exposure, this study enabled the investigation of environmentally relevant half-lives in natural waters. Many APIs showed high persistence, which is environmentally concerning and emphasizes the importance of further studies on their environmental fate and effects. (C) 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Active pharmaceutical ingredients; Oseltamivir; Photostability; Photolysis; Half-lives; Aquatic environments

Published in

2017, Volume: 176, pages: 175-182

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication Identifiers


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