Advanced oxidation processes for degradation of pharmaceuticals used during COVID-19 pandemic

Ramirez, Irwing; Mariam, Ezrah; Kumar, Ajay; Yanardağ, Duygu; Villaseñor-Basulto, Déborah L.; Garcia-Huante, Yolanda G.; Ordaz, Alberto; Kum, Soyoon and Rowles, Lewis S. (2024). Advanced oxidation processes for degradation of pharmaceuticals used during COVID-19 pandemic. In: Dehghani, Mohammad Hadi; Karri, Rama Rao and Tyagi, Inderjeet eds. Sustainable Technologies for Remediation of Emerging Pollutants from Aqueous Environment. Elsevier, pp. 337–362.



The COVID-19 pandemic impacted public health, the economy, and the environment worldwide. During the pandemic, high demand for prescribed pharmaceuticals to treat COVID-19 and other consequential illnesses was observed, including antiviral, corticosteroids, antidepressants, analgesics, and antibiotics. The excessive use of these pharmaceutical compounds provoked new concerns regarding their presence in water bodies. Although the concentrations of these compounds in water are in trace levels (e.g., ng L−1 in most cases), the scientific community has classified them as emerging contaminants of paramount importance. Wastewater and drinking water systems have been encouraged and, in some cases, required to remove these emerging contaminants. Among various treatment techniques, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are potential technologies to degrade and remove these contaminants. AOPs represents a broad group of treatment processes for oxidizing compounds that are typically resistant to conventional redox processes. In this chapter, the impact of COVID-19 on water systems is discussed to understand the current circumstances of associated pharmaceutical compounds. We explore the effectiveness of AOPs from the lens of removing these organic molecules. In addition, we provide an overview of the current methods for the detection and quantification of pharmaceutical compounds against COVID-19 in wastewater. The information presented in this chapter has the potential to help engineers, scientists, and public health professionals navigate how AOPs can be used for degradation of pharmaceuticals in water.

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