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Citalopram (CIT) and sertraline (SER) are highly consumed antidepressants worldwide and have been extensively detected in wastewater. Due to the incomplete mineralization, transformation products (TPs) of them can be detected in wastewater. Comparing with parent compounds, knowledge on TPs are limited. To fill these research gaps, lab-scale batch experiments, WWTPs sampling and in silico toxicity prediction were implemented to investigate the structure, occurrence and toxicity of TPs. Based on molecular networking nontarget strategy, 13 TPs of CIT and 12 TPs of SER were tentatively identified. Among them, 4 TPs from CIT and 5 TPs from SER were newly found in present study. TPs identification results compared with results obtained from previous nontarget strategies demonstrated that the excellent performances for molecular networking strategy on candidate TPs prioritizing and new TPs finding, especially for low abundance TPs. Further, transformation pathways for CIT and SER in wastewater were proposed. Newly identified TPs provided insights on defluorination, formylation and methylation for CIT and dehydrogenation, N-malonylation and N-acetoxylation for SER transformed in wastewater. Nitrile hydrolysis and N-succinylation were found to be the dominant transformation pathways for CIT and SER in wastewater, respectively. WWTPs sampling results shown the concentrations of SER and CIT ranged from 0.46 to 28.66 ng/L and 17.16 to 58.36 ng/L. In addition, 7 TPs of CIT and 2 TPs of SER found in lab-scale wastewater samples were found in WWTPs. In silico results suggested 2 TPs of CIT may be more toxic than CIT toward all three trophic levels organisms. Present study provides new insights into the transformation processes of CIT and SER in wastewater. In addition, the necessity of paying more attention on TPs was further highlighted from the aspects of toxicity for TPs of CIT and SER in effluent of WWTPs. Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Gang Wu, Xuebing Wang, Xuxiang Zhang, Hongqiang Ren, Yanru Wang, Qingmiao Yu, Si Wei, Jinju Geng. Nontarget screening based on molecular networking strategy to identify transformation products of citalopram and sertraline in wastewater. Water research. 2023 Apr 01;232:119509

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PMID: 36801596

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