Field and laboratory studies of the fate and enantiomeric enrichment of venlafaxine and O-desmethylvenlafaxine under aerobic and anaerobic conditions

G. Gasser, I. Pankratov, S. Elhanany, P. Werner, J. Gun, F. Gelman, O. Lev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The stereoselectivity of R,. S-venlafaxine and its metabolites R,. S-O-desmethylvenlafaxine, N-desmethylvenlafaxine, O,. N-didesmethylvenlafaxine, N,. N-didesmethylvenlafaxine and tridesmethylvenlafaxine was studied in three processes: (i) anaerobic and aerobic laboratory scale tests; (ii) six wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) operating under different conditions; and (iii) a variety of wastewater treatments including conventional activated sludge, natural attenuation along a receiving river stream and storage in operational and seasonal reservoirs. In the laboratory and field studies, the degradation of the venlafaxine yielded O-desmethylvenalfaxine as the dominant metabolite under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Venlafaxine was almost exclusively converted to O-desmethylvenlafaxine under anaerobic conditions, but only a fraction of the drug was transformed to O-desmethylvenlafaxine under aerobic conditions. Degradation of venlafaxine involved only small stereoisomeric selectivity. In contrast, the degradation of O-desmethylvenlafaxine yielded remarkable S to R enrichment under aerobic conditions but none under anaerobic conditions. Determination of venlafaxine and its metabolites in the WWTPs agreed well with the stereoselectivity observed in the laboratory studies. Our results suggest that the levels of the drug and its metabolites and the stereoisomeric enrichment of the metabolite and its parent drug can be used for source tracking and for discrimination between domestic and nondomestic wastewater pollution. This was indeed demonstrated in the investigations carried out at the Jerusalem WWTP.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Israel Water Authority, the BMBF-Germany – MOST-Israel, Water Technology Program, and the Israel Science Foundation for partial support of this research. This research is also partly supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation under CREATE programme: Nanomaterials for Energy and water Management. We thank F.T. Lange and M. Schuerer from TZW Karlsruhe for valuable discussions. P.W. thanks the Lady Davis foundation for a visiting professorship in the Hebrew University.


  • Aerobic
  • Anaerobic
  • Micropollutants
  • Stereoselectivity
  • Venlafaxine
  • Wastewater treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Field and laboratory studies of the fate and enantiomeric enrichment of venlafaxine and O-desmethylvenlafaxine under aerobic and anaerobic conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this