Mechanistic study on the role of soluble microbial products in sulfate radical-mediated degradation of pharmaceuticals

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The role of soluble microbial products (SMP), the most important component of effluent organic matter from municipal wastewater treatment plants, in sulfate radical (SO4•–)-based advanced oxidation technologies (AOTs) remains substantially unclear. In this study, we first utilized a suite of macro- and microanalytical techniques to characterize the SMP from a membrane bioreactor for its fundamental molecular, spectroscopic, and reactivity properties. The degradation kinetics of three representative pharmaceuticals (i.e., naproxen, gemfibrozil, and sulfadiazine) in the presence of SMP was significantly reduced as compared to in its absence. Possible mechanisms for the interference by SMP in degrading these target compounds (TCs) were investigated. The low percentage of bound TCs to SMP ruled out the cage effect. The measurement of steady-state 1O2 concentration indicated that formation of 1O2 upon UV irradiation on SMP was not primarily responsible for the degradation of TCs. However, the comparative and quenching results reveal that SMP absorbs UV light acting as an inner filter toward the TCs, and meanwhile scavenges SO4•– with a high second-order rate constant of 2.48 × 108 MC–1 s–1.

Publisher's Statement

Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Environmental science & technology