Efficacy and mechanistic insights into endocrine disruptor degradation using atmospheric air plasma

C. Sarangapani, M. Danaher, Brijesh Tiwari, Peng Lu, Paula Bourke, P. J. Cullen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Endocrine disruptors are a class of contaminants found in water and process effluents at low concentrations. They are of concern due to their high estrogenic potency. Their presence in the environment has led to the search for effective techniques for their removal in wastewater. For this purpose, an atmospheric air plasma reactor was employed for the study of the degradation of three endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDC) namely; bisphenol A (BPA), estrone (E1) and 17β-estradiol (E2) within a model dairy effluent. Identification of the plasma induced active species both in the gas and liquid phases were performed. Also studied was the influence of an inhibitor, namely tertiary butanol, on the degradation of the EDCs. The results demonstrate that air plasma could successfully degrade the tested EDCs, achieving efficacies of 93% (k = 0.189 min−1) for BPA, 83% (k = 0.132 min−1) for E1 and 86% (k = 0.149 min−1) for E2, with the process following first order kinetics. The removal efficacy was reduced in the presence of a radical scavenger confirming the key role of oxygen radicals such as [rad]OH in the degradation process. The intermediate and final products generated in the degradation process were identified using UHPLC-MS and LC-MS. Based on the intermediates identified a proposed degradation pathway is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-714
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric air plasma
  • Degradation
  • Endocrine disruptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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