PHOTODEGRADATION OF SULFAMETHOXAZOLE: A CHEMICAL SYSTEM CAPABLE OF MONITORING SEASONAL CHANGES IN UVB INTENSITY

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Abstract

Abstract— Sulfamethoxazole (SMX) in its nonionized form in aqueous solution has ultraviolet (UV) absorption that is maximal at 268 nm but extends through the ultraviolet-B (UVB) region. It was found to be extremely susceptible to photodegradation when exposed to artificial UV radiation through a Pyrex filter or to unfiltered natural sunlight. The SMX anion was more stable. The quantum yields of the photodegradation of both forms were determined by use of monochromatic light and ferrioxalate chemical actinometry, the values of 0.47 (pH 3.0) and 0.084 (pH 9.0) at the maximum absorption wavelengths (268 and 257 nm, respectively) being obtained. Using literature data on sunlight intensity, the photochemical shelf-life of SMX solutions exposed to direct sunlight was calculated for Sydney (latitude 33.5°S) as a function of season of the year and verified experimentally. A fixed correlation was established between the rate constant for SMX degradation and UVB intensity measured by a radiometer, suggesting the capacity of this chemical system to monitor changes in the UVB region of sunlight.

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