Removal of the X‑ray Contrast Media Diatrizoate by Electrochemical Reduction and Oxidation

Due to their resistance to biological wastewater treatment, iodinated X-ray contrast media (ICM) have been detected in municipal wastewater effluents at relatively high concentrations (i.e., up to 100 μg L<sup>–1</sup>), with hospitals serving as their main source. To provide a new approach for reducing the concentrations of ICMs in wastewater, electrochemical reduction at three-dimensional graphite felt and graphite felt doped with palladium nanoparticles was examined as a means for deiodination of the common ICM diatrizoate. The presence of palladium nanoparticles significantly enhanced the removal of diatrizoate and enabled its complete deiodination to 3,5-diacetamidobenzoic acid. When the system was employed in the treatment of hospital wastewater, diatrizoate was reduced, but the extent of electrochemical reduction decreased as a result of competing reactions with solutes in the matrix. Following electrochemical reduction of diatrizoate to 3,5-diacetamidobenzoic acid, electrochemical oxidation with boron-doped diamond (BDD) anodes was employed. 3,5-Diacetamidobenzoic acid disappeared from solution at a rate that was similar to that of diatrizoate, but it was more readily mineralized than the parent compound. When electrochemical reduction and oxidation were coupled in a three-compartment reactor operated in a continuous mode, complete deiodination of diatrizoate was achieved at an applied cathode potential of −1.7 V vs SHE, with the released iodide ions electrodialyzed in a central compartment with 80% efficiency. The resulting BDD anode potential (i.e., +3.4–3.5 V vs SHE) enabled efficient oxidation of the products of the reductive step. The presence of other anions (e.g., chloride) was likely responsible for a decrease in I<sup>–</sup> separation efficiency when hospital wastewater was treated. Reductive deiodination combined with oxidative degradation provides benefits over oxidative treatment methods because it does not produce stable iodinated intermediates. Nevertheless, the process must be further optimized for the conditions encountered in hospital wastewater to improve the separation efficiency of halide ions prior to the electrooxidation step.