Removal of the Iodinated X‑ray Contrast Medium Diatrizoate by Anaerobic Transformation

The iodinated X-ray contrast medium diatrizoate is known to be very persistent in current wastewater treatment as well as in environmental compartments. In this study, the potential of anaerobic processes in soils, sediments, and during wastewater treatment to remove and transform diatrizoate was investigated. In anaerobic batch experiments with soil and sediment seven biologically formed transformation products (TPs) as well as the corresponding transformation pathway were identified. The TPs resulted from successive deiodinations and deacetylations. The final TP 3,5-diaminobenzoic acid (DABA) was stable under anaerobic conditions. However, DABA was further transformed under air atmosphere, indicating the potential for the mineralization of diatrizoate by combining anaerobic and aerobic conditions. With the development of a methodology using complementary liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization–tandem mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry techniques, all identified TPs were quantified and the mass balance could be closed without having authentic standards for four of the TPs available. The detection and quantification of diatrizoate TPs in groundwater, in technical wetlands with anaerobic zones, and in a pilot wastewater treatment plant established for anaerobic treatment highlights the transferability and up-scaling of the results attained by laboratory experiments to environmental conditions.