Biotic and Abiotic Remediation of Acetaminophen with Woodchip and Biochar-amended Woodchip Adsorbents

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Virginia Tech

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products found in the environment pose a significant hazard to human and ecosystem health. While there has been significant work on the fate and remediation of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater treatment, relatively little work has explored the fate, transport and remediation of these compounds in non-point source input. This is concerning given the increasing use of pharmaceuticals in livestock production and wastewater treatment derived biosolids frequently applied to land. These experiments aimed to quantify the abiotic adsorption and biotic transformation and uptake potential of woodchips and biochar-amended woodchips as a potential sorbent strategy for diffuse acetaminophen (ACT) pollution.

Batch reactions were created in triplicate, supplied with 5 mM ACT, and analyzed over an eight hr period using ultraviolet spectrophotometry (298 nm). Ultraviolet absorbance readings for each time step then were compared to standard curves and solution ACT concentration was determined. Decreases in ACT from initial concentrations were the result of either abiotic and/or biotic. Overall, the woodchips and biochar-amended woodchips showed similar removal efficiency (16-21% of initial concentration). Whole model ANOVA analysis showed biologic activity having no significant effect on ACT solution concentration. However, within group ANOVA comparison showed significant differences between abiotic and biotic WC and abiotic and biotic WC treatments (controlling for media). Thus, the media effect could have masked the effect of biology on ACT removal. Species capable of degrading ACT exist and further study into their ability to grow and survive on these sorbents requires further work.

Acetaminophen, biochar, woodchips, adsorption, adsorbent, adsorbate