*WINNER* Role of Intermediaries in the Degradation of Acetaminophen by Photocatalytic Methods: Preliminary Observations
Acetaminophen is one of the most common drugs used to treat minor pains and illnesses as well as to control fever. Due to both the widespread use of acetaminophen and its incomplete metabolism by humans, undesirable quantities of the drug may end up in our water systems even after partial microbial metabolic processes reduce the amount present in wastewater. This represents a significant health hazard as there are currently no treatment processes that are readily available for wastewater treatment facilities to remove acetaminophen from the water in its entirety. This project is seeking to test the feasibility of photocatalytic degradation of acetaminophen using photocatalytic methods via the immobilization of titanium dioxide on thin films. The overall goal of the project is to find the most efficient and effective experimental conditions for the of degradation of acetaminophen. One important aspect of this effort is to identify the role played by potential intermediaries due to the degradation of the drug and their possible interference in the efficiency of the process. After presenting experimental evidence of the presence of intermediate products, a theoretical analysis based on information found in the literature and molecular structures will be presented. Properties of the intermediary molecules as well as their contamination strength and future work needed to completely elucidate the role of the intermediaries in the process will be presented.