Insights into the degradation of diphenhydramine – An emerging SARS-CoV-2 medicine by UV/Sulfite

Hiu Lam So, Liwen Wang, Jianghui Liu, Wei Chu, Tao Li, Amal Abdelhaleem

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


As Diphenhydramine (DPH) has been considered as a drug to treat SARS-CoV-2, the degradation of DPH from water was investigated and evaluated in this study by adopting an advanced oxidation/advanced reduction process – the UV/sulfite process. The UV/sulfite system was able to eliminate DPH within 6 mins under UV254nm and 1.0 mM sulfite. It was observed that the presence of NO3-, NO2-, Cl-, HCO3-, and SO42- anions in water can affect the performance of UV/Sulfite degradation system. The mechanism of UV/sulfite/anions was evaluated which the presence of NO3- in UV/sulfite process has revealed faster initial decay rate but lower final DPH removal. It was observed that the UV/Sulfite process was extremely sensitive to pH as the dissociation of ion species varied among pH. The reaction became sluggish in acidic solution due to the dissociation of less reactive species such as HSO3-. In alkaline solution, SO32- was the dominant species, producing powerful SO3∙- and eaq- when activated by UV at 254 nm. By conducting LC/MS analysis, the degradation pathway was proposed and can be summarized into four main pathways: hydroxylation, side chain cleavage, losing aromatic ring or ring opening. Scavenging tests were also carried out and validated the presence of various radicals contributing to the reaction, including eaq-, Ḣ, OḢ, SO3̇-, O2•- and SO4̇-.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122193
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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