Emerging contaminants are compounds found in water, soil and air, derived from products such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors, personal care products (PCPs), natural toxins, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), illicit drugs, among other substances which have been causing damage to the environment and human health due its quantity, persistence and interactions. In water, conventional treatment methods and technologies have been shown inefficient in remove most of these contaminants. Therefore, it is necessary to search for alternatives to treat these effluents. The adsorption process stands out for its low cost, high efficiency and ease operation. Among the adsorbent materials, the biosorbents have been highlighted in the literature for being eco-friendly, renewable and of low-cost material. In addition to the removal of contaminants emerging from aqueous media, the detection, identification and quantification of these contaminants become necessary. Raman spectroscopy is one of the most effective methods for detecting many compounds, which via SERS effect (surface-enhanced Raman scattering), makes possible to identify these compounds even when at low concentrations (micro and nanomol/L). Thus, in this project we intend to synthesize a new adsorbent material composed of cellulose microfibers with Au nanoparticles in different shapes on the fiber surface aiming the emerging contaminants removal from aqueous medium and its subsequent identification/quantification via SERS. The hybrid material (solid), when dispersed in water containing the emerging contaminants, forms an emulsion, being able to adsorb the contaminants. Three different classes of emerging contaminants were selected: i) ibuprofen (pharmaceutical), one of the most used anti-inflammatory drugs in the world and the most commonly found in water; ii) 2,4-D (pesticide), the most common additive among the herbicides; iii) 17²-estradiol (endocrine disruptor), an estrogen hormone listed as one of the main water contaminant. This project is part of FAPESP INCT Thematic Project (#2014/50869-6) in Organic Electronics (INEO: jul/2017-jun/2023) and provides a 12-month sandwich period (BEPE) in Madrid-Spain.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: