Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Piero R Gardinali

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kenneth G. Furton

Third Advisor's Name

Rudolf Jaffe

Fourth Advisor's Name

Bruce McCord

Fifth Advisor's Name

Gary M. Rand


Photo degradation, solar simulation, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), sucralose, dioctyl sulfosuccinates, antibiotics, degradates

Date of Defense



Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are continuously being released into the environment mainly because of their incomplete removal in the sewage treatment plants (STPs). The CECs selected for the study include antibiotics (macrolides, sulfonamides and ciprofloxacin), sucralose (an artificial sweetener) and dioctyl sulfosuccinate (DOSS, chemical dispersant used in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill). After being discharged into waterways from STPs, photo degradation is a key factor in dictating the environmental fate of antibiotics and sucralose. Photodegradation efficiency depends on many factors such as pH of the matrix, matrix composition, light source and structure of the molecule. These factors exert either synergistic or antagonistic effects in the environment and thus experiments with isolated factors may not yield the same results as the natural environmental processes. Hence in the current study photodegradation of 13 CECs (antibiotics, sucralose and dicotyl sulfosuccinate) were evaluated using natural water matrices with varying composition (deionized water, fresh water and salt water) as well as radiation of different wavelengths (254 nm, 350 nm and simulated solar radiation) in order to mimic natural processes. As expected the contribution of each factor on the overall rate of photodegradation is contaminant specific, for example under similar conditions, the rate in natural waters compared to pure water was enhanced for antibiotics (2-11 fold), significantly reduced for sucralose (no degradation seen in natural waters) and similar in both media for DOSS. In general, it was observed that the studied compounds degraded faster at 254 nm, while when using a simulated sunlight radiation the rate of photolysis of DOSS increased and the rates for antibiotics decreased in comparison to the 350 nm radiation. The photo stability of the studied CECs followed the order sucralose > DOSS > macrolides > sulfonamides > ciprofloxacin and a positive relationship was observed between photo stability and their ubiquitous presence in natural aquatic matrices. An online LC-MS/MS method was developed and validated for sucralose and further applied to reclaimed waters (n =56) and drinking waters (n = 43) from South Florida. Sucralose was detected in reclaimed waters with concentrations reaching up to 18 µg/L. High frequency of detection (> 80%) in drinking waters indicate contamination of ground waters in South Florida by anthropogenic activity.




Part of the thesis was published.



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