Insights into the interactions of bisphenol and phthalate compounds with unamended and carnitine-amended montmorillonite clays.
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Montmorillonite clays could be promising sorbents to mitigate toxic compound exposures. Bisphenols A (BPA) and S (BPS) as well as phthalates, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), are ubiquitous environmental contaminants linked to adverse health effects. Here, we combined computational and experimental methods to investigate the ability of montmorillonite clays to sorb these compounds. Molecular dynamics simulations predicted that parent, unamended, clay has higher binding propensity for BPA and BPS than for DBP and DEHP; carnitine-amended clay improved BPA and BPS binding, through carnitine simultaneously anchoring to the clay through its quaternary ammonium cation and forming hydrogen bonds with BPA and BPS. Experimental isothermal analysis confirmed that carnitine-amended clay has enhanced BPA binding capacity, affinity and enthalpy. Our studies demonstrate how computational and experimental methods, combined, can characterize clay binding and sorption of toxic compounds, paving the way for future investigation of clays to reduce BPA and BPS exposure.