Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 32, pp 33363–33372 | Cite as

Occurrence and removal of sulfonamides and their acetyl metabolites in a biological aerated filter (BAF) of wastewater treatment plant in Xiamen, South China

  • Dapeng Wang
  • Xian ZhangEmail author
  • Changzhou Yan
Research Article


Most sulfonamides, widely used around the world, are excreted via feces and urine along with their metabolites in humans and animals. Therefore, understanding the potential removal pathway of sulfonamides and their metabolites in wastewater treatment systems is of importance. The occurrence and fate of four sulfonamides and their acetyl metabolites in wastewater and sludge in a biological aerated filter in Xiamen city were evaluated. Six of the target compounds were detected in wastewater, but only parent compounds were detected in sludge. The highest concentration in wastewater was acetyl-sulfamethoxazole (Ac-SMZ) with a concentration of 75.2 ng/L. Removal efficiency and mass load in wastewater treatment systems were calculated. In terms of the overall removal efficiency, they ranged from 24.4 to 100%. The removal efficiencies of sulfamerazine (SM1), sulfamethazine (SM2), and sulfadiazine (SD) were up to 100% while N-acetyl sulfamerazine (Ac-SM1) showed the lowest removal efficiency. Biodegradation was the dominant remove pathway according to the mass balance analysis while SD and SM2 were sludge adsorption. The results can provide an insight into the fate of target sulfonamides in BAF systems and provide data to assess their potential ecological risks.


Sulfonamides WWTP Mass load analysis Acetyl metabolites Biological aerated filter (BAF) 



The authors appreciate the staffs in the BAF for sampling assistance.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the International Cooperation of Ministry Science and Technology of China (grant number 2011DFB91710).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6311_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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