Terbuthylazine and desethylterbutylazine : recent occurrence, mobility and removal techniques

Tasca, Andrea Luca and Puccini, Monica and Fletcher, Ashleigh (2018) Terbuthylazine and desethylterbutylazine : recent occurrence, mobility and removal techniques. Chemosphere, 202. pp. 94-104. ISSN 0045-6535 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.03.091)

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The herbicide terbuthylazine (TBA) has displaced atrazine in most of EU countries, becoming one of the most regularly used pesticides and, therefore, frequently detected in natural waters. The affinity of TBA for soil organic matter suggests prolonged contamination, once present; degradation leads to the release of the metabolite desethylterbuthylazine (DET), which has a higher water solubility and binds more weakly to organic matter compared to the parent compound, resulting in higher associated risk for contamination of groundwater resources. Additionally, TBA and DET are chemicals of emerging concern because of their persistence and toxicity towards aquatic organisms; moreover, they are known to have significant endocrine disruption capacity to wildlife and humans. Conventional treatments applied during drinking water production do not lead to the complete removal of these chemicals; activated carbon provides the greatest efficiency, whereas ozonation can generate by-products with comparable oestrogenic activity to atrazine. Hydrogen peroxide alone is ineffective to degrade TBA, while UV/H2O2 advanced oxidation and photocatalysis methods are the most effective processes for oxidation of TBA, with efficiencies above 90%. It has been determined that direct photolysis gives the highest degradation efficiency of all UV/H2O2 treatments, while most of the photocatalytic degradation efficiency is attributed to OH radicals, and TiO2 solar-photocatalytic ozonation can lead to almost complete TBA removal in ~30 min. Biomixtures could also be highly effective in preventing groundwater pollution due to TBA and DET, while constructed wetlands provide a valuable buffer capacity, protecting downstream surface waters from contaminated agricultural runoff.