Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 7938–7958 | Cite as

The role of graphene oxide and graphene oxide-based nanomaterials in the removal of pharmaceuticals from aqueous media: a review

  • Ayub Khan
  • Jian Wang
  • Jun Li
  • Xiangxue Wang
  • Zhongshan Chen
  • Ahmed Alsaedi
  • Tasawar Hayat
  • Yuantao Chen
  • Xiangke WangEmail author
Review Article


In this review paper, the ill effects of pharmaceuticals (PhAs) on the environment and their adsorption on graphene oxide (GO) and graphene oxide-based (GO-based) nanomaterials have been summarised and discussed. The adsorption of prominent PhAs discussed herein includes beta-blockers (atenolol and propranolol), antibiotics (tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole), pharmaceutically active compounds (carbamazepine) and analgesics such as diclofenac. The adsorption of PhAs strictly depends upon the experimental conditions such as pH, adsorbent and adsorbate concentrations, temperature, ionic strength, etc. To understand the adsorption mechanism and feasibility of the adsorption process, the adsorption isotherms, thermodynamics and kinetic studies were also considered. Except for some cases, GO and its derivatives show excellent adsorption capacities for PhAs, which is crucial for their applications in the environmental pollution cleanup.


Graphene oxide Graphene oxide-based nanomaterials Water pollution cleanup Adsorption Interaction mechanism 





Activated carbon


Advanced oxidation processes








Biomass fibres


Biological oxygen demand


Bovine serum albumin


Calcium alginate








Carbon nanotubes


Chemically prepared carbon


China Scholarship Council




Chemical vapour deposition


Carbon xerogel




Dissolved organic matter




Doxorubicin hydrochloride




Endocrine disrupting compounds


GO/poly(acrylic acid) grafted with chitosan


Graphene oxide


Graphene oxide functionalized magnetic nanoparticles


Graphene oxide nanoplatelets


Humic acid




Improved Hummer’s method




Magnetic chitosan-grafted graphene oxide nanocomposite


Modified Hummer’s method


Magnetic mesoporous carbon composite






Oxygen-containing functional groups










Sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate






Specific surface area






Wastewater treatment plants



The support from the Chinese government under China Scholarship Council (CSC) for foreign postgraduate students, NSFC (21225730, 91326202, 21577032), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (JB2015001), the Kunlun Scholarship of Qinghai province, the Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Radiation Medicine and Protection and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions is acknowledged.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and Chemical EngineeringNorth China Electric Power UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.NAAM Research Group, Department of Mathematics, Faculty of ScienceKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsQuaid-I-Azam UniversityIslamabadPakistan
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryQinghai Normal UniversityXiningPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Collaborative Innovation Center of Radiation Medicine of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions and School for Radiological and Interdisciplinary SciencesSoochow UniversitySuzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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