Organic micropollutants in wastewater treatment plants, China

Ben W, Zhu B, Yuan X, Zhang Y, Yang M, Qiang Z. Occurrence, removal and risk of organic micropollutants in wastewater treatment plants across China: Comparison of wastewater treatment processes. Water research. 2017 Nov 30;130:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.11.057.

This study investigated the occurrence, removal and risk of 42 organic micropollutants (MPs), including 30 pharmaceuticals and personal care products and 12 endocrine disrupting chemicals, in 14 municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) distributed across China. The composition profiles of different MP categories in the influent, effluent, and excess sludge were explored and the aqueous removal efficiencies of MPs were determined. Quantitative meta-analysis was performed to compare the efficacies of different wastewater treatment processes in eliminating MPs. Results indicate that different MP categories showed quite similar distributions among the studied WWTPs, with phenolic estrogenic compounds (PEs), macrolides, and fluoroquinolones being always dominant in the influent, effluent and excess sludge. Tetracyclines, bezafibrate, caffeine, steroid estrogens, and PEs showed high and stable aqueous removal efficiencies, whereas other MPs showed considerably varied aqueous removal efficiencies. Anaerobic/anoxic/oxic process combined with a moving-bed biofilm reactor achieved the highest aqueous removal of MPs among various secondary treatment processes. A combined process consisting of ultrafiltration, ozonation and ClO2 disinfection resulted in the highest removal of MPs among the tertiary treatment processes. Sulfamethoxazole, ofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, estrone, and bisphenol A in the effluent, as well as β-estradiol 3-sulfate in the excess sludge could pose high risks. This study draws an overall picture about the current status of MPs in WWTPs across China and provides useful information for better control of the risks associated with MPs.

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