Journal of environmental science and health. Part A, Toxic/hazardous substances & environmental engineering

Microbial degradation of pharmaceuticals followed by a simple HPLC-DAD method.

PMID 22871013


The biodegradation of five pharmaceutical ingredients (PIs) of different therapeutic classes, namely antibiotics (trimethoprim, sulfametoxazole and ciprofloxacin), anti-inflammatory (diclofenac) and anti-epileptic (carbamazepine), by two distinct microbial consortia, was investigated. For the monitoring of biodegradation assays, a simple HPLC-DAD (High Performance Liquid Chromatography - Diode Array Detector) method was developed and validated. The separation of the target pharmaceuticals was performed using an environmental friendly mobile phase in a gradient mode of 0.1% triethylamine (TEA) in water acidified at pH 2.23 with trifluoroacetic acid (TFAA) and ethanol as organic solvent. The method revealed to be selective, linear and precise in the range of 1.0 to 30.0 μg/mL for all PIs. Biodegradation assays were performed using activated sludge and a bacterial consortium (able to degrade fluoroaromatic compounds) supplemented with the target PIs at a final concentration of 25 μg/mL. The results revealed that activated sludge removed the target compounds more efficiently than the bacterial consortium.