Effects of Ionic Strength, Temperature, and pH on Degradation of Selected Antibiotics

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Environmental Quality



Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Aqueous degradation rates, which include hydrolysis and epimerization, for chlortetracycline (CTC), oxytetracycline (OTC), tetracycline (TET), lincomycin (LNC), sulfachlorpyridazine (SCP), sulfadimethoxine (SDM), sulfathiazole (STZ), trimethoprim (TRM), and tylosin A (TYL) were studied as a function of ionic strength (0.0015, 0.050, or 0.084 mg/L as Na2HPO4), temperature (7, 22, and 35°C), and pH (2, 5, 7, 9, and 11). Multiple linear regression revealed that ionic strength did not significantly affect (α = 0.05) degradation rates for all compounds, but temperature and pH affected rates for CTC, OTC, and TET significantly (α = 0.05). Degradation also was observed for TYL at pH 2 and 11. No significant degradation was observed for LNC, SCP, SDM, STZ, TRM, and TYL (pH 5, 7, and 9) under study conditions. Pseudo first‐order rate constants, half‐lives, and Arrhenius coefficients were calculated where appropriate. In general, hydrolysis rates for CTC, OTC, and TET increased as pH and temperature increased following Arrhenius relationships. Known degradation products were used to confirm that degradation had occurred, but these products were not quantified. Half‐lives ranged from less than 6 h up to 9.7 wk for the tetracyclines and for TYL (pH 2 and 11), but no degradation of LIN, the sulfonamides, or TRM was observed during the study period. These results indicate that tetracyclines and TYL at pH 2 and 11 are prone to pH‐mediated transformation and hydrolysis in some cases, but not the sulfonamides, LIN nor TRM are inclined to degrade under study conditions. This indicates that with the exception of CTC, OTC, and TET, pH‐mediated reactions such as hydrolysis and epimerization are not likely removal mechanisms in surface water, anaerobic swine lagoons, wastewater, and ground water.

This document is currently not available here.