The presence of pharmaceutical residues in the different aquatic compartments is a major environmental issue. Carbamazepine (CBZ), a heterocyclic antiepileptic, which is neutral between pH 3 and 11, is known to resist biodegradation. Its elimination in wastewater treatment plants is below 20% regardless of the primary and/or secondary treatments currently implemented. Its presence in groundwater raises questions about soil permeability in relation to this molecule. In order to provide meaningful answers, the CBZ adsorption performances of the principal mineral constituents of a natural soil (alumina, quartz, goethite, haematite, kaolinite, montmorillonite, and a saponin stevensite) and of an industrial activated carbon were assessed. Prior to the batch adsorption tests, the texture, mineralogy, and zero point of charge of these products were determined. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and UV-visible spectrometry were used to characterize the CBZ used. With the exception of stevensite, these minerals did not adsorb CBZ. However, stevensite’s affinity for CBZ remained very low compared to that of activated carbon (235 mg/g, tap water), which proved to be the most appropriate product for eliminating CBZ. The π−π, CH−π, and hydrogen bonds are the basis for the interactions established between CBZ and activated carbon, and their combination increases the overall adsorption efficiency.
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