Degradation of typical macrolide antibiotic roxithromycin by hydroxyl radical: kinetics, products, and toxicity assessment

  • Wei LiEmail author
  • Xiujuan Xu
  • Baoling Lyu
  • Ying Tang
  • Yinlong ZhangEmail author
  • Fang Chen
  • Gregory Korshin
Research Article


The degradation of roxithromycin (ROX) by hydroxyl radical (·OH) generated by UV/H2O2 was systematically investigated in terms of degradation kinetics, effects of water chemistry parameters, oxidation products, as well as toxicity evaluation. The degradation of ROX by UV/H2O2 with varying light irradiation intensity, initial ROX concentration, and H2O2 concentration in pure water and wastewater all followed pseudo-first-order kinetics. The second-order rate constant for reaction between ROX and ·OH is 5.68 ± 0.34 × 109/M/s. The degradation rate of ROX increased with the pH; for instance, the apparent degradation rates were 0.0162 and 0.0309/min for pH 4 and pH 9, respectively. The presence of natural organic matter (NOM) at its concentrations up to 10 mg C/L did not significantly affect the removal of ROX. NO3 and NO2 anions inhibited the degradation of ROX due to the consumption of ·OH in reactions with these ions. Fe3+, Cu2+, and Mg2+ cations inhibited the degradation of ROX, probably because of the formation of ROX-metal chelates. A total of ten degradation products were tentatively identified by HPLC/LTQ-Orbitrap XL MS, which mainly derived from the attack on the oxygen linking the lactone ring and the cladinose moiety, tertiary amine and oxime side chain moiety by ·OH. The toxicity evaluation revealed that UV/H2O2 treatment of ROX induced the toxicity to bioluminescent bacteria increased.


Emerging contaminants Advanced oxidation process Reaction kinetics Water matrix effects Degradation products Toxicity assessment 


Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Science Fund for Colleges and Universities of Jiangsu Province (15KJB610006), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20160930), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016 M590461), Jiangsu Postdoctoral Science Foundation (1501008B), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700441, 41501514).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4713_MOESM1_ESM.doc (425 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 425 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Co-Innovation center for sustainable Forestry in Southern China, College of Biology and the EnvironmentNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Advanced Analysis and Testing CenterNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.School of Resources and MaterialsNortheastern University at QinhuangdaoQinhuangdaoChina
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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