Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 35, pp 34995–35007 | Cite as

Photocatalytic oxidation of six endocrine disruptor chemicals in wastewater using ZnO at pilot plant scale under natural sunlight

  • Nuria VelaEmail author
  • May Calín
  • María J. Yáñez-Gascón
  • Isabel Garrido
  • Gabriel Pérez-Lucas
  • José Fenoll
  • Simón Navarro
Advanced oxidation processes for water/wastewater treatment


Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are xenobiotics that interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, and elimination of the natural hormones. In this paper, the photodegradation of six EDs in municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents at pilot plant scale is reported. The EDs were bisphenol A, bisphenol B, diamyl phthalate, butyl benzylphthalate, methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, and ethyl 4-hydroxybenzoate. ZnO as photocatalyst in tandem with Na2S2O8 as electron acceptor under natural sunlight were used. The process was previously optimized under laboratory conditions through a photoreactor under artificial UVA irradiation studying the role of some key operating parameters (catalyst loading, effect of electron acceptor, and pH). Results carried out at pilot plant scale show that addition of ZnO in tandem with Na2S2O8 strongly enhances degradation rates compared with photolytic test. At the end of the irradiation time (240 min), the remaining amounts of EDs ranged from 24% (butyl benzylphthalate) to 0% (< LOQ bisphenol B). The degradation rates were in the order: bisphenols > parabens > phthalates. After the photoperiod, 83% of the initial dissolved organic carbon was removed and toxicity decreased to acceptable values (11% inhibition to Vibrio fisheri). The photodegradation process was found to follow pseudo-first-order kinetic model with DT50 ranging from 5 min (bisphenol B) to 102 min (butyl benzylphthalate). Thereby, photocatalytic oxidation using ZnO is an area of environmental interest for the treatment of polluted water, particularly relevant for Mediterranean countries, where solar irradiation is highly available.


Endocrine disruptors Bisphenols Phthalates Parabens Solar photocatalysis ZnO 


Funding information

The authors acknowledge financial support from San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia (Project PMAFI 27/14).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Technology Group to Environmental Health, Faculty of Health ScienceCatholic University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Sustainability and Quality Group of Fruit and Vegetable ProductsMurcia Institut of Agri-Food Research and DevelopmentMurciaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Geology and Pedology, Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of MurciaMurciaSpain

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