Sorption of ionic and neutral species of pharmaceuticals to loessial soil amended with biochars

  • Lin Wu
  • Erping BiEmail author
Research Article


To clarify the impact of biochar amendment on soil sorption for coexisting pharmaceuticals, wheat straw-derived biochars pyrolyzed at 300 and 700 °C (labeled as WS300 and WS700, respectively) were prepared. Batch experiments on ketoprofen (KTP), atenolol (ATL) and carbamazepine (CBZ) sorption to biochars, loessial soil and biochar-amended soils were conducted. The results indicated that sorption affinity of different species of pharmaceuticals to WS300 and WS700 was in the order of cationic ATL > neutral CBZ > anionic KTP. Cationic ATL had the highest sorption to biochars due to electrostatic attraction. Coexisting ATL, CBZ and KTP competed for the shared adsorption sites on carbonized phase of biochars, and π–π interactions were proposed to be the main sorption mechanism. Sorption coefficients (Kd) and nonlinearity of ATL, CBZ and KTP to soil increased when biochar was added (5% by weight), especially for WS700 with higher specific surface area. Kd values of the three pharmaceuticals to WS700-amended soil in either single solute or bisolute system were one to two orders of magnitude higher than those to soil, indicating the promoting role of WS700 in sorption of coexisting pharmaceuticals in soil. The study demonstrated the enhanced and competitive sorption of ionic and neutral species of pharmaceuticals to soil amended with biochars, which is helpful in designing biochar as effective sorbents for immobilization of pharmaceuticals in soil remediation.


Biochar amendment Loessial soil Pharmaceuticals Sorption Bisolute system Mechanism 









Wheat straw-derived biochar at 300 °C


Wheat straw-derived biochar at 700 °C


High performance liquid chromatography


Specific surface area


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41472231) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2652017181).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6721_MOESM1_ESM.docx (116 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 116 kb)


  1. Al-Khazrajy OSA, Boxall A (2016) Impacts of compound properties and sediment characteristics on the sorption behaviour of pharmaceuticals in aquatic systems. J Hazard Mater 317:198–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cai N, Larese-Casanova P (2014) Sorption of carbamazepine by commercial graphene oxides: a comparative study with granular activated carbon and multiwalled carbon nanotubes. J Colloid Interface Sci 426:152–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cai N, Larese-Casanova P (2016) Application of positively-charged ethylenediamine-functionalized graphene for the sorption of anionic organic contaminants from water. J Environ Chem Eng 4:2941–2951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chefetz B, Mualem T, Ben-Ari J (2008) Sorption and mobility of pharmaceutical compounds in soil irrigated with reclaimed wastewater. Chemosphere 73:1335–1343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen B, Yuan M (2011) Enhanced sorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by soil amended with biochar. J Soils Sediments 11:62–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen Z, Chen B, Chiou CT (2012a) Fast and slow rates of naphthalene sorption to biochars produced at different temperatures. Environ Sci Technol 46:11104–11111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen Z, Chen B, Zhou D, Chen W (2012b) Bisolute sorption and thermodynamic behavior of organic pollutants to biomass-derived biochars at two pyrolytic temperatures. Environ Sci Technol 46:12476–12483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chiou CT, Cheng J, Hung WN, Chen B, Lin TF (2015) Resolution of adsorption and partition components of organic compounds on black carbons. Environ Sci Technol 49:148–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dodgen LK, Kelly WR, Panno SV, Taylor SJ, Armstrong DL, Wiles KN, Zhang Y, Zheng W (2016) Characterizing pharmaceutical, personal care product, and hormone contamination in a karst aquifer of southwestern Illinois, USA, using water quality and stream flow parameters. Sci Total Environ 578:281–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hu Y, Fitzgerald NM, Lv G, Xing X, Jiang WT, Li Z (2015) Adsorption of atenolol on kaolinite. Adv Mater Sci Eng 2015:1–8Google Scholar
  11. Jin J, Kang M, Sun K, Pan Z, Wu F, Xing B (2016) Properties of biochar-amended soils and their sorption of imidacloprid, isoproturon, and atrazine. Sci Total Environ 550:504–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kah M, Brown CD (2007) Prediction of the adsorption of ionizable pesticides in soils. J Agric Food Chem 55:2312–2322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kavitha B, Reddy PVL, Kim B, Lee SS, Pandey SK, Kim K-H (2018) Benefits and limitations of biochar amendment in agricultural soils: a review. J Environ Manag 227:146–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Keiluweit M, Kleber M (2009) Molecular-level interactions in soils and sediments: the role of aromatic π-systems. Environ Sci Technol 43:3421–3429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Khare P, Goyal DK (2013) Effect of high and low rank char on soil quality and carbon sequestration. Ecol Eng 52:161–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kodešová R, Grabic R, Kočárek M, Klement A, Golovko O, Fér M, Nikodem A, Jakšík O (2015) Pharmaceuticals' sorptions relative to properties of thirteen different soils. Sci Total Environ 511:435–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kolpin DW, Furlong ET, Meyer MT, Thurman EM, Zaugg SD, Barber LB, Buxton HT (2002) Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999-2000: a national reconnaissance. Environ Sci Technol 36:1202–1211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kumari KGID, Moldrup P, Paradelo M, Jonge LWD (2014) Phenanthrene sorption on biochar-amended soils: application rate, aging, and physicochemical properties of soil. Water Air Soil Pollut 225:2105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kupryianchyk D, Hale S, Zimmerman AR, Harvey O, Rutherford D, Abiven S, Knicker H, Schmidt H-P, Rumpel C, Cornelissen G (2016) Sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds to a diverse suite of carbonaceous materials with emphasis on biochar. Chemosphere 144:879–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Letsinger S, Kay P (2019) Comparison of prioritisation schemes for human pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26:3479–3491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li F, Cao X, Zhao L, Yang F, Wang J, Wang S (2013) Short-term effects of raw rice straw and its derived biochar on greenhouse gas emission in five typical soils in China. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 59:800–811CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Li Z, Xiang X, Li M, Ma Y, Wang J, Liu X (2015) Occurrence and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products and endocrine disrupting chemicals in reclaimed water and receiving groundwater in China. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 119:74–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Navon R, Hernandez-Ruiz S, Chorover J, Chefetz B (2011) Interactions of carbamazepine in soil: effects of dissolved organic matter. J Environ Qual 40:942–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pan B, Ning P, Xing B (2009) Part V-sorption of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Environ Sci Pollut Res 16:106–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reguyal F, Sarmah AK (2018) Adsorption of sulfamethoxazole by magnetic biochar: effects of pH, ionic strength, natural organic matter and 17α-ethinylestradiol. Sci Total Environ 628-629:722–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reh R, Licha T, Geyer T, Nödler K, Sauter M (2013) Occurrence and spatial distribution of organic micro-pollutants in a complex hydrogeological karst system during low flow and high flow periods, results of a two-year study. Sci Total Environ 443:438–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ren X, Zhang P, Zhao L, Sun H (2016) Sorption and degradation of carbaryl in soils amended with biochars: influence of biochar type and content. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:2724–2734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sander M, Pignatello JJ (2005) Characterization of charcoal adsorption sites for aromatic compounds: insights drawn from single-solute and bi-solute competitive experiments. Environ Sci Technol 39:1606–1615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schaffer M, Licha T (2015) A framework for assessing the retardation of organic molecules in groundwater: implications of the species distribution for the sorption-influenced transport. Sci Total Environ 524-525:187–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schreiter IJ, Schmidt W, Schüth C (2018) Sorption mechanisms of chlorinated hydrocarbons on biochar produced from different feedstocks: conclusions from single- and bi-solute experiments. Chemosphere 203:34–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sun K, Kang M, Zhang Z, Jin J, Wang Z, Pan Z, Xu D, Wu F, Xing B (2013) Impact of deashing treatment on biochar structural properties and potential sorption mechanisms of phenanthrene. Environ Sci Technol 47:11473–11481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Teixidó M, Hurtado C, Pignatello JJ, Beltrán JL, Granados M, Peccia J (2013) Predicting contaminant adsorption in black carbon (biochar)-amended soil for the veterinary antimicrobial sulfamethazine. Environ Sci Technol 47:6197–6205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tijani JO, Fatoba OO, Petrik LF (2013) A review of pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting compounds: sources, effects, removal, and detections. Water Air Soil Pollut 224:1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tolls J (2001) Sorption of veterinary pharmaceuticals in soils: a review. Environ Sci Technol 35:3397–3406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vithanage M, Rajapaksha AU, Tang X, Thiele-Bruhn S, Kim KH, Lee S-E, Ok YS (2014) Sorption and transport of sulfamethazine in agricultural soils amended with invasive-plant-derived biochar. J Environ Manag 141:95–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wang J, Wang S (2016) Removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) from wastewater: a review. J Environ Manag 182:620–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wu L, Li B, Bi E (2017) Effect of molecular dissociation and sorbent carbonization on bisolute sorption of pharmaceuticals by biochars. Water Air Soil Pollut 228:242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yan Q, Feng G, Gao X, Sun C, Guo JS, Zhu Z (2016) Removal of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) and toxicological response of Cyperus alternifolius exposed to PhACs in microcosm constructed wetlands. J Hazard Mater 301:566–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yang Y, Sheng G (2003) Enhanced pesticide sorption by soils containing particulate matter from crop residue burns. Environ Sci Technol 37:3635–3639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang K, Jiang Y, Yang J, Lin D (2018) Correlations and adsorption mechanisms of aromatic compounds on biochars produced from various biomass at 700 °C. Environ Pollut 233:64–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yu Z, Huang W (2005) Competitive sorption between 17alpha-ethinyl estradiol and naphthalene/phenanthrene by sediments. Environ Sci Technol 39:4878–4885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang D, Pan B, Wu M, Zhang H, Peng H, Ning P, Xing B (2012) Cosorption of organic chemicals with different properties: their shared and different sorption sites. Environ Pollut 160:178–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhang X, He L, Sarmah AK, Lin K, Liu Y, Li J, Wang H (2014) Retention and release of diethyl phthalate in biochar-amended vegetable garden soils. J Soils Sediments 14:1790–1799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang Q, Fan J, Zhang X (2016) Effects of simulated wind followed by rain on runoff and sediment yield from a sandy loessial soil with rills. J Soils Sediments 16:2306–2315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zhang P, Sun H, Min L, Ren C (2018) Biochars change the sorption and degradation of thiacloprid in soil: insights into chemical and biological mechanisms. Environ Pollut 236:158–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Zhelezova A, Cederlund H, Stenström J (2017) Effect of biochar amendment and ageing on adsorption and degradation of two herbicides. Water Air Soil Pollut 228:216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zheng H, Wang Z, Zhao J, Herbert S, Xing B (2013) Sorption of antibiotic sulfamethoxazole varies with biochars produced at different temperatures. Environ Pollut 181:60–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhu D, Pignatello JJ (2005) Characterization of aromatic compound sorptive interactions with black carbon (charcoal) assisted by graphite as a model. Environ Sci Technol 39:2033–2041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zielińska A, Oleszczuk P (2016) Attenuation of phenanthrene and pyrene adsorption by sewage sludge-derived biochar in biochar-amended soils. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:21822–21832CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Water Resources and Environment, Beijing Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, and MOE Key Laboratory of Groundwater Circulation and Environmental EvolutionChina University of Geosciences (Beijing)BeijingChina
  2. 2.Hebei and China Geological Survey Key Laboratory of Groundwater Remediation, Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesShijiazhuangChina

Personalised recommendations