Fate of selected pharmaceutically active compounds during simulated riverbank filtration

Matteo D'Alessio, Bunnie Yoneyama, Chittaranjan Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of temperature, oxygen, and organic matter on the removal of selected pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) during simulated riverbank filtration (RBF). The behavior of six PhACs (caffeine, carbamazepine, 17-β estradiol [E2], estrone [E1], gemfibrozil, and phenazone) was evaluated by small flow-through column experiments. Results from our study showed that RBF can be used to treat many of the PhACs found in environmental waters. Local conditions at the RBF site, however, can affect the removal of PhACs and should be investigated. Biodegradation and sorption represented the predominant mechanisms involved during the removal of the selected PhACs. All selected PhACs showed limited and slower removal during the winter. Phenazone was highly impacted by the level of oxygen; complete depletion of phenazone below the analytical limit occurred only under aerobic conditions (dissolved oxygen >8mgL-1). Caffeine and E2 were highly impacted by the presence of humic acid in the feed water. Caffeine and E2 were depleted below the detection limit in the presence of humic acid regardless of the temperature and the level of oxygen. E1 was impacted by the different environmental conditions and depletion below the detection limit occurred only during the summer under aerobic conditions. Carbamazepine (10%) and gemfibrozil (<30%) showed limited removal regardless of the different levels of temperature, oxygen and humic acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-622
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation
  • Humic acid
  • Oxygen
  • PhACs
  • RBF
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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