Degradation of neonicotinoids and caffeine from surface water by photolysis

Alexandra Raschitor, Alberto Romero, Sandra Sanches, Vanessa J. Pereira, João G. Crespo, Javier Llanos

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Along with rapid social development, the use of insecticides and caffeine-containing products increases, a trend that is also reflected in the composition of surface waters. This study is focused on the phototreatment of a surface water containing three neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, thi-amethoxam, and clothianidin) and caffeine. Firstly, the radiation absorption of the target pollutants and the effect of the water matrix components were evaluated. It was observed that the maximum absorption peaks appear at wavelengths ranging from 246 to 274 nm, and that the water matrix did not affect the efficiency of the removal of the target pollutants. It was found that the insecticides were efficiently removed after a very short exposure to UV irradiation, while the addition of hydrogen peroxide was needed for an efficient caffeine depletion. The electrical energy per order was estimated, being the lowest energy required (9.5 kWh m−3 order−1) for the depletion of thiamethoxan by indirect photolysis, and a concentration of hydrogen peroxide of 5 mg dm−3. Finally, a prelimi-nary evaluation on the formation of by-products reveals that these compounds play a key role in the evolution of the ecotoxicity of the samples, and that the application of direct photolysis reduces the concentration of these intermediates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7277
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Advanced oxidation process
  • Caffeine
  • Direct photolysis
  • Drinking water treatment
  • Ecotoxicity
  • Neonicotinoids


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