Unraveling the Pollution and Discharge of Aminophenyl Sulfone Compounds, Sulfonamide Antibiotics, and Their Acetylation Products in Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

Yilin Xiao, Qing Zhang*, Yingying Yang, Kaixuan Li, Yu Xiao, Shangwei Zhang, Feng Guo, Xiaoman Jiang, Shaoda Liu, Edmond Sanganyado, Xinghui Xia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aminophenyl sulfone compounds (ASCs) are widely used in various fields, such as the pharmaceutical and textile industries. ASCs and their primary acetylation products are inevitably discharged into the environment. However, the high toxicity of ASCs could be released from the deacetylation of acetylation products. Still, the occurrence and ecological risks of ASCs and their acetylation products remain largely unknown. Here, we integrated all of the existing ASCs based on the core structure, together with their potential acetylation products, to establish a database covering 1105 compounds. By combining the database with R programming, 45 ASCs, sulfonamides, and their acetylation products were identified in the influent and effluent of 19 municipal wastewater treatment plants in 4 cities of China. 13 of them were detected for the first time in the aquatic environment, and 12 acetylation products were newly identified. The cumulative concentrations of 45 compounds in the influent and effluent were in the range of 231–9.96 × 103 and 26–2.70 × 103 ng/L, respectively. The proportion of the unrecognized compounds accounted for 60.6% of the influent and 62.8% of the effluent. Furthermore, nearly half of the ASCs (46.7%), other sulfonamides (49.9%), and their acetylation products (46.2%) were discharged from the effluent, posing a low-to-medium risk to aquatic organisms. The results provide a guideline for future monitoring programs, particularly for sulfadiazine and dronedarone, and emphasize that the ecological risk of ASCs, sulfonamides, and their acetylation products needs to be considered in the aquatic environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11695-11706
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number26
Early online date15 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2024

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