CESAM & Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, Campus de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal; Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, ESTESC-Coimbra Health School, Complementary Sciences, Rua 5 de Outubro, S. Martinho do Bispo, 3046-854 Coimbra, Portugal. Electronic address: [Email]
Sulfamethoxazole (SMX) is the most representative antibiotic of the sulfonamides group used in both human and veterinary medicine, and thus frequently detected in water resources. This has caused special concern due to the pronounced toxicity and potential to foster bacterial resistance of this drug. Therefore, and to further understand the fate of SMX in the aquatic environment, its photodegradation under simulated solar radiation was here studied in ultrapure water and in different environmental samples, namely estuarine water, freshwater and wastewater. SMX underwent very fast photodegradation in ultrapure water, presenting a half-life time (t1/2) of 0.86 h. However, in environmental samples, the SMX photodegradation rate was much slower, with 5.4 h < t1/2 < 7.8 h. The main novelty of this work was to prove that pH, salinity and dissolved organic matter are determinant factors in the decrease of the SMX photodegradation rate observed in environmental samples and, thus, they will influence the SMX fate and persistence, potentially increasing the risks associated to the presence of this pollutant in the environment.