Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol.360, 30-37, 2019
Ecotoxicity variation through parabens degradation by single and catalytic ozonation using volcanic rock
Parabens are widely used as antimicrobial and preservative ingredients in pharmaceutical and personal care products. Nevertheless, these compounds have been increasingly seen as emerging contaminants that can be toxic to a wide range of species. In this study, the toxic effect of a mixture of parabens (10 mg/L of each paraben: methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, benzyl- and butylparaben) and its degradation products through single and catalytic ozonation (using volcanic rock as low-cost catalyst) was investigated over several non-target species: clado-cerans, microalgae, clams, macrophytes and cress. The analysis of the toxicity of parabens mixture is relevant since usually these compounds are used as blends rather than individually. While parabens were totally removed both by single and catalytic ozonation the toxicity of the samples resulting from both treatments was generally high. This toxicity was still compared to the one obtained for several dilutions of the initial parabens mixture and it was concluded that the by-products formed are more toxic than the most diluted parabens mixture sample (0.625 mg/L). While catalytic ozonation allows reducing the amount of ozone (about 3-fold) required for total removal of parabens, the resulting treated solution was more toxic than the sample taken at the endpoint of the single ozonation treatment. This suggests that the highest amount of ozone used for single ozonation allowed the elimination of toxic by-products such as hydroquinone and 1,4-benzoquinone. Still, the effect of by-products and parabens interaction depends on the species analyzed due to their different tolerances to potentially toxic products.