H2O2-assisted photoelectrocatalytic degradation of Mitoxantrone using CuO nanostructured films: Identification of by-products and toxicity

Ana Paula Pereira da Rosa, Rodrigo Pereira Cavalcante, Débora Antonio da Silva, Lucas de Melo da Silva, Thalita Ferreira da Silva, Fábio Gozzi, Enda McGlynn*, Anita Brady-Boyd, Gleison Antônio Casagrande, Heberton Wender, Silvio César de Oliveira, Amilcar Machulek Junior

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (SciVal)


CuO nanostructured thin films supported on silicon with 6.5 cm2 area (geometric area greater than the studies reported in the literature) were synthesized by a chemical bath deposition technique. The electrodes were characterized by MEV, XRD, XPS, contact angle, cyclic voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy analyses. To evaluate the photoelectrochemical properties of the CuO films, photocurrent–voltage measurements were performed using linear voltammetry. The catalytic activities of CuO nanostructures were evaluated by monitoring photodegradation of Mitoxantrone (MTX) under UV-A light irradiation. The method of photoelectrocatalysis (PEC), applying a voltage of 1.5 V and assisted by adding H2O2, was undertaken. To the best of our knowledge, no studies on the degradation of anticancer agents using PEC process have been found in the literature. For comparison purposes, experiments were performed under the same conditions by assisted photocatalysis (PC) with H2O2 and direct photolysis. CuO deposits consist of a needle-like morphology. The presence of CuO in the tenorite phase was evidenced by XRD and the XPS spectra showed the presence of copper(II) oxide. The increase in current under illumination shows that CuO exhibits photoactivity. The PEC system showed a 75% level of MTX degradation, while the level achieved using PC was 50%. Under UV-A light alone only 3% removal was obtained after 180 min. Up to 10 by-products were identified by chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) with m/z values ranging between 521 and 285 and a plausible degradation route has been proposed. It is worth mentioning that 9 by-products identified in this work, were not found in the literature in other studies of degradation or products generated as metabolites. The toxicity tests of MTX before and after PEC treatment with Artemia Salina and Allium cepa showed a decrease in the acute toxicity of the medium as the antineoplastic was degraded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2845-2856
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPt 2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticancer drug
  • Chemical synthesis
  • CuO/Si heterojunctions
  • Degradation pathways
  • Needle-like CuO nanostructures
  • Photoelectrocatalytic activity
  • Nanostructures/chemistry
  • Hydrogen Peroxide/chemistry
  • Models, Chemical
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Antineoplastic Agents/analysis
  • Mitoxantrone/analysis
  • Copper/chemistry


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