Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 2795–2804 | Cite as

Xenobiotic benzotriazoles—biodegradation under meso- and oligotrophic conditions as well as denitrifying, sulfate-reducing, and anaerobic conditions

  • Bastian HerzogEmail author
  • Hilde Lemmer
  • Bettina Huber
  • Harald Horn
  • Elisabeth Müller
Research Article


The intensive use of benzotriazoles as corrosion inhibitors for various applications and their application in dishwasher detergents result in an almost omnipresence of benzotriazole (BTri), 4-methyl- and 5-methyl-benzotriazole (4-TTri and 5-TTri, respectively) in aquatic systems. This study aims on the evaluation of the biodegradation potential of activated sludge communities (ASCs) toward the three benzotriazoles regarding aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic conditions and different nutrients. ASCs were taken from three wastewater treatment plants with different technologies, namely, a membrane bioreactor (MBR-MH), a conventional activated sludge plant CAS-E (intermittent nitrification/denitrification), and CAS-M (two-stage activated sludge treatment) and used for inoculation of biodegradation setups. All ASCs eliminated up to 30 mg L−1 5-TTri and BTri under aerobic conditions within 2–7 and 21–49 days, respectively, but not under anoxic or anaerobic conditions. 4-TTri was refractory at all conditions tested. Significant differences were observed for BTri biodegradation with non-acclimated ASCs from MBR-MH with 21 days, CAS-E with 41 days, and CAS-M with 49 days. Acclimated ASCs removed BTri within 7 days. Furthermore, different carbon and nitrogen concentrations revealed that nitrogen was implicitly required for biodegradation while carbon showed no such effect. The fastest biodegradation occurred for 5-TTri with no need for acclimatization, followed by BTri. BTri showed sludge-specific biodegradation patterns, but, after sludge acclimation, was removed with the same pattern, regardless of the sludge used. Under anaerobic conditions in the presence of different electron acceptors, none of the three compounds showed biological removal. Thus, presumably, aerobic biodegradation is the major removal mechanism in aquatic systems.


Tolyltriazole 4-Methyl-benzotriazole 5-Methyl-benzotriazole Batch reactors Activated sludge Micropollutants 



Financial support by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health (StMUG) is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bastian Herzog
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hilde Lemmer
    • 2
  • Bettina Huber
    • 1
  • Harald Horn
    • 3
  • Elisabeth Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Urban Water Systems EngineeringTechnische Universität MünchenGarchingGermany
  2. 2.Bavarian Environment AgencyAugsburgGermany
  3. 3.Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyEngler-Bunte-Institut, Bereich Wasserchemie und WassertechnologieKarlsruheGermany

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