Application of a multivariate analysis method for non-target screening detection of persistent transformation products during the cork boiling wastewater treatment

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Aug 15;633:508-517. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.03.179. Epub 2018 Mar 28.


Cork boiling wastewater is a very complex mixture of naturally occurring compounds leached and partially oxidized during the boiling cycles. The effluent generated is recalcitrant and could cause a significant environmental impact. Moreover, if this untreated industrial wastewater enters a municipal wastewater treatment plant it could hamper or reduce the efficiency of most activated sludge degradation processes. Despite the efforts to treat the cork boiling wastewater for reusing purposes, is still not well-known how safe these compounds (original compounds and oxidation by-products) will be. The purpose of this work was to apply an HPLC-high resolution mass spectrometry method and subsequent non-target screening using a multivariate analysis method (PCA), to explore relationships between samples (treatments) and spectral features (masses or compounds) that could indicate changes in formation, degradation or polarity, during coagulation/flocculation (C/F) and photo-Fenton (PhF). Although, most of the signal intensities were reduced after the treatment line, 16 and 4 new peaks were detected to be formed after C/F and PhF processes respectively. The use of this non-target approach showed to be an effective strategy to explore, classify and detect transformation products during the treatment of an unknown complex mixture.

Keywords: AOPs; Cork boiling wastewater; Non-target screening; PCA; Photo-Fenton; Transformation products.