Differences in neonicotinoid and metabolite sorption to activated carbon are driven by alterations to the insecticidal pharmacophore

Environmental Science and Technology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Widespread application of neonicotinoids has led to their proliferation in waters. Despite low neonicotinoid hydrophobicity, our prior studies implicated granular activated carbon (GAC) in neonicotinoid removal. Based on known receptor binding characteristics, we hypothesized that the insecticidal pharmacophore influences neonicotinoid sorption. Our objectives were to illuminate drivers of neonicotinoid sorption for parent neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and thiacloprid) and pharmacophore-altered metabolites (desnitro-imidacloprid and imidacloprid urea) to GAC, powdered activated carbon, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Neonicotinoid sorption to GAC was extensive and largely irreversible, with significantly greater sorption of imidacloprid than desnitro-imidacloprid. Imidacloprid and imidacloprid urea (electronegative pharmacophores) sorbed most extensively to nonfunctionalized CNTs, whereas desnitro-imidacloprid (positive pharmacophore) sorbed most to COOH-CNTs, indicating the importance of charge interactions and/or hydrogen bonding between the pharmacophore and carbon surface. Water chemistry parameters (temperature, alkalinity, ionic strength, and humic acid) inhibited overall neonicotinoid sorption, suggesting that pharmacophore-driven sorption in real waters may be diminished. Analysis of a full-scale drinking water treatment plant GAC filter influent, effluent, and spent GAC attributes neonicotinoid/metabolite removal to GAC under real-world conditions for the first time. Our results demonstrate that the neonicotinoid pharmacophore not only confers insecticide selectivity but also impacts sorption behavior, leading to less effective removal of metabolites by GAC filters in water treatment.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Differences in neonicotinoid and metabolite sorption to activated carbon are driven by alterations to the insecticidal pharmacophore
Series title Environmental Science and Technology
DOI 10.1021/acs.est.0c04187
Volume 54
Issue 22
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher American Chemical Society
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 14694
Last page 14705
Online Only (Y/N) N
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