Antiviral drugs are among the most common and important classes of pharmaceuticals to treat viral infections, however their continuous emission and persistence in the receiving environment has attracted increasing attention about their potential ecological risks. Here we investigated the occurrence, fate and mass load of 9 antiviral drugs for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and hepatitis B, in 7 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with different treatment processes in Guangdong, China. Totally, 8 target antiviral drugs were detected in the WWTPs influent wastewater, effluent wastewater and sludge, with maximal concentrations up to 7624 ng/L (telbivudine), 568 ng/L (telbivudine), and 2013 ng/g wet weight (telbivudine), respectively. The removal efficiency varied widely between different antiviral drugs, with the mean aqueous removal efficiency and total removal efficiency ranging from -6.2% (nevirapine) to 100% (lamivudine) and -1.2% (nevirapine) to 100% (lamivudine), respectively. Mass balance analysis showed that their elimination was mostly attributed to the biodegradation/biotransformation. The total back-estimated usage and emission of 9 target antiviral drugs were 77.8 t/y and 13.2 t/y in Guangdong province, China, respectively. Based on the sewage epidemiology approach, the consumption and emission of antiviral drugs in seven studied WWTPs were ranged at 2.31 mg/d/1000 people (nevirapine) to 4970 mg/d/1000 people (telbivudine), and 0 (lamivudine) to 900 mg/d/1000 people (telbivudine), respectively. Preliminary risk assessment showed that the antiviral drugs of zidovudine, ritonavir, lopinavir, and telbivudine in the receiving rivers could pose high ecological risks for aquatic environment. The findings from the present study illustrate the persistence of nevirapine in WWTPs, and provide essential evidence for further study into the development of wastewater treatment technologies.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.