Photodegradation mechanisms of acyclovir in water and the toxicity of photoproducts

  • Tian-Cong Jia
  • Jin-Tao Guo
  • Zhen Wang
  • Xiao-Shan Zhu
  • Qian-Xin Zhang
  • Ping Chen
  • Kun YaoEmail author
  • Wen-Ying LvEmail author
  • Guo-Guang Liu


Acyclovir (ACV), an anti-virus drug, was widely detected in natural water at concentrations ranging from ng L−1 to μg L−1 due to inefficient biological treatments in sewage treatment plant. Photochemical experiments involving the irradiation from a xenon lamp simulating sunlight were conducted to explore the environmental behavior and potential risks of ACV. Isopropanol was used as a radical trapping agent for mechanism research, and the toxicity of the photoproducts of ACV was evaluated by the acute toxicity test of Photobacterium phosphoreum T3 spp. The results indicated that the ACV photodegradation followed pseudo first-order reaction kinetics, and the ACV removal rate increased when the pH was elevated from 5 to 10. The photochemical reaction pathway revealed by HPLC–MS/MS suggested that the C–C bond and C–N bond of ACV could be attacked by ·OH; thus, the photoproducts were mostly composed of hydroxyl substitution products. The intermediate photoproducts in the course of photodegradation exhibited a higher toxicity than the parent ACV, and the highest toxicity effect was observed at 6 h, which implied that the photoproducts of ACV might pose a great potential risk on aquatic environments.


Acyclovir Photodegradation Mechanism Degradation products Toxicity 



This research was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (2016A030313697) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21377031, 41573094, 21677040).


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tian-Cong Jia
    • 1
  • Jin-Tao Guo
    • 1
  • Zhen Wang
    • 1
  • Xiao-Shan Zhu
    • 2
  • Qian-Xin Zhang
    • 1
  • Ping Chen
    • 1
  • Kun Yao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wen-Ying Lv
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guo-Guang Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringGuangdong University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Graduate School at ShenzhenTsinghua UniversityShenzhenChina

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