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Sorption and photodegradation processes govern distribution and fate of sulfamethazine in freshwater−sediment microcosms

Carstens, Keri L., Gross, Aaron D., Moorman, Thomas B., Coats, Joel R.
ARS USDA Submissions 2013 v.47 pp. 10877
antibiotics, benthic organisms, biodegradation, carbon dioxide, drug residues, freshwater, gas production (biological), half life, metabolites, photolysis, pig manure, runoff, sediments, sorption, sulfanilamides, surface water, water pollution
The antibiotic sulfamethazine can be transported from manured fields to surface water bodies. We investigated the degradation and fate of sulfamethazine in pond water using 14C-phenyl-sulfamethazine in small pond water microcosms containing intact sediment and pond water. We found a 2.7-day half-life in pond water and 4.2-day half-life when sulfamethazine was added to the water (5 mg L−1 initial concentration) with swine manure diluted to simulate runoff. Sulfamethazine dissipated exponentially from the water column, with the majority of loss occurring via movement into the sediment phase. Extractable sulfamethazine in sediment accounted for 1.9−6.1% of the applied antibiotic within 14 days and then declined thereafter. Sulfamethazine was transformed mainly into nonextractable sediment-bound residue (40−60% of applied radioactivity) and smaller amounts of photoproducts. Biodegradation, as indicated by metabolite formation and 14CO2 evolution, was less significant than photodegradation. Two photoproducts accounted for 15−30% of radioactivity in the water column at the end of the 63-day study; the photoproducts were the major degradates in the aqueous and sediment phases. Other unidentified metabolites individually accounted for <7% of radioactivity in the water or sediment. Less than 3% of applied radioactivity was mineralized to 14CO2. Manure input significantly increased sorption and binding of sulfamethazine residues to the sediment. These results show concurrent processes of photodegradation and sorption to sediment control aqueous concentrations and establish that sediment is a sink for sulfamethazine and sulfamethazine-related residues. Accumulation of the photoproducts and sulfamethazine in sediment may have important implications for benthic organisms.