Transformation and sorption of illicit drug biomarkers in sewer biofilms

Pedram Ramin, Andreas Libonati Brock, Ana Causanilles Llanes, Borja Valverde Pérez, Erik Emke, Pim de Voogt, Fabio Polesel, Benedek G. Plósz

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Abstract

In-sewer transformation of drug biomarkers (excreted parent drugs and metabolites) can be influenced by the presence of biomass in suspended form as well as attached to sewer walls (biofilms). Biofilms are likely the most abundant and biologically active biomass fraction in sewers. In this study, 16 drug biomarkers were selected, including the major human metabolites of mephedrone, methadone, cocaine, heroin, codeine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Transformation and sorption of these substances were assessed in targeted batch experiments using laboratory-scale biofilm reactors operated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. A one-dimensional model was developed to simulate diffusive transport, abiotic and biotic transformation and partitioning of drug biomarkers. Model calibration to experimental results allowed estimating transformation rate constants in sewer biofilms, which were compared to those obtained using in-sewer suspended biomass. Our results suggest that sewer biofilms can enhance the transformation of most compounds. Through scenario simulations, we demonstrated that the estimation of transformation rate constants in biofilm can be significantly biased if the boundary layer thickness is not accurately estimated. This study complements our previous investigation on the transformation and sorption of drug biomarkers in the presence of only suspended biomass in untreated sewage. A better understanding of the role of sewer biofilms-also relative to the in-sewer suspended solids-and improved prediction of associated fate processes can lead to more accurate estimation of daily drug consumption in urban areas in wastewater-based epidemiological assessments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume51
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)10572–10584
ISSN0013-936X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Cite this

Ramin, Pedram ; Brock, Andreas Libonati ; Causanilles Llanes, Ana ; Valverde Pérez, Borja ; Emke, Erik ; de Voogt, Pim ; Polesel, Fabio ; Plósz, Benedek G. / Transformation and sorption of illicit drug biomarkers in sewer biofilms. In: Environmental Science and Technology. 2017 ; Vol. 51, No. 18. pp. 10572–10584.
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title = "Transformation and sorption of illicit drug biomarkers in sewer biofilms",
abstract = "In-sewer transformation of drug biomarkers (excreted parent drugs and metabolites) can be influenced by the presence of biomass in suspended form as well as attached to sewer walls (biofilms). Biofilms are likely the most abundant and biologically active biomass fraction in sewers. In this study, 16 drug biomarkers were selected, including the major human metabolites of mephedrone, methadone, cocaine, heroin, codeine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Transformation and sorption of these substances were assessed in targeted batch experiments using laboratory-scale biofilm reactors operated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. A one-dimensional model was developed to simulate diffusive transport, abiotic and biotic transformation and partitioning of drug biomarkers. Model calibration to experimental results allowed estimating transformation rate constants in sewer biofilms, which were compared to those obtained using in-sewer suspended biomass. Our results suggest that sewer biofilms can enhance the transformation of most compounds. Through scenario simulations, we demonstrated that the estimation of transformation rate constants in biofilm can be significantly biased if the boundary layer thickness is not accurately estimated. This study complements our previous investigation on the transformation and sorption of drug biomarkers in the presence of only suspended biomass in untreated sewage. A better understanding of the role of sewer biofilms-also relative to the in-sewer suspended solids-and improved prediction of associated fate processes can lead to more accurate estimation of daily drug consumption in urban areas in wastewater-based epidemiological assessments.",
author = "Pedram Ramin and Brock, {Andreas Libonati} and {Causanilles Llanes}, Ana and {Valverde P{\'e}rez}, Borja and Erik Emke and {de Voogt}, Pim and Fabio Polesel and Pl{\'o}sz, {Benedek G.}",
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Transformation and sorption of illicit drug biomarkers in sewer biofilms. / Ramin, Pedram; Brock, Andreas Libonati; Causanilles Llanes, Ana; Valverde Pérez, Borja; Emke, Erik; de Voogt, Pim; Polesel, Fabio; Plósz, Benedek G.

In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 51, No. 18, 2017, p. 10572–10584.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Transformation and sorption of illicit drug biomarkers in sewer biofilms

AU - Ramin, Pedram

AU - Brock, Andreas Libonati

AU - Causanilles Llanes, Ana

AU - Valverde Pérez, Borja

AU - Emke, Erik

AU - de Voogt, Pim

AU - Polesel, Fabio

AU - Plósz, Benedek G.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - In-sewer transformation of drug biomarkers (excreted parent drugs and metabolites) can be influenced by the presence of biomass in suspended form as well as attached to sewer walls (biofilms). Biofilms are likely the most abundant and biologically active biomass fraction in sewers. In this study, 16 drug biomarkers were selected, including the major human metabolites of mephedrone, methadone, cocaine, heroin, codeine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Transformation and sorption of these substances were assessed in targeted batch experiments using laboratory-scale biofilm reactors operated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. A one-dimensional model was developed to simulate diffusive transport, abiotic and biotic transformation and partitioning of drug biomarkers. Model calibration to experimental results allowed estimating transformation rate constants in sewer biofilms, which were compared to those obtained using in-sewer suspended biomass. Our results suggest that sewer biofilms can enhance the transformation of most compounds. Through scenario simulations, we demonstrated that the estimation of transformation rate constants in biofilm can be significantly biased if the boundary layer thickness is not accurately estimated. This study complements our previous investigation on the transformation and sorption of drug biomarkers in the presence of only suspended biomass in untreated sewage. A better understanding of the role of sewer biofilms-also relative to the in-sewer suspended solids-and improved prediction of associated fate processes can lead to more accurate estimation of daily drug consumption in urban areas in wastewater-based epidemiological assessments.

AB - In-sewer transformation of drug biomarkers (excreted parent drugs and metabolites) can be influenced by the presence of biomass in suspended form as well as attached to sewer walls (biofilms). Biofilms are likely the most abundant and biologically active biomass fraction in sewers. In this study, 16 drug biomarkers were selected, including the major human metabolites of mephedrone, methadone, cocaine, heroin, codeine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Transformation and sorption of these substances were assessed in targeted batch experiments using laboratory-scale biofilm reactors operated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. A one-dimensional model was developed to simulate diffusive transport, abiotic and biotic transformation and partitioning of drug biomarkers. Model calibration to experimental results allowed estimating transformation rate constants in sewer biofilms, which were compared to those obtained using in-sewer suspended biomass. Our results suggest that sewer biofilms can enhance the transformation of most compounds. Through scenario simulations, we demonstrated that the estimation of transformation rate constants in biofilm can be significantly biased if the boundary layer thickness is not accurately estimated. This study complements our previous investigation on the transformation and sorption of drug biomarkers in the presence of only suspended biomass in untreated sewage. A better understanding of the role of sewer biofilms-also relative to the in-sewer suspended solids-and improved prediction of associated fate processes can lead to more accurate estimation of daily drug consumption in urban areas in wastewater-based epidemiological assessments.

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DO - 10.1021/acs.est.6b06277

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