The fate and behavior of selected endocrine disrupting chemicals in full scale wastewater and sludge treatment unit processes

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    Abstract

    Endocrine disrupting chemicals are discharged into the environment mainly through wastewater treatment processes. There is a need for better understanding of the fate of these compounds in the unit processes of treatment plant to optimise their removal. The fate of oestrone, 17β-estradiol, 17α-ethinyestradiol and nonylphenol in the unit processes of full scale wastewater treatment plants in the UK, including activated sludge plant, oxidation ditch, biofilter and rotating biological contactor were investigated. The overall removal efficiencies of all the compounds ranged from 41 %to 100%. The removals were predominantly during the secondary biological treatment with the rates of removal related to the nitrification rates and the sludge age. The removal efficiency of the treatment processes were in the order activated sludge > oxidation ditch > biofilter > rotating biological contactors. Activated sludge plant configured for biological nutrient removal showed better removal of the endocrine disrupting chemicals compared to conventional activated sludge plant effluents. Tertiary treatment was also significant in the removal process through solids removal. Overall mechanisms of removal were biodegradation and sorption unto sludge biomass. Phytoremediation was also significant in the removal processes. The endocrine disrupting chemicals persisted in the anaerobic sludge digestion process with percentage removals ranging fro 10–48 %. Sorption of the endocrine disrupting chemicals onto the sludge increased with increasing values for the partitioning coefficients and the organic carbon contents of the sludge.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-254
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
    Volume8
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

    Keywords

    • biodegradation
    • endocrine disrupting compounds
    • removal efficiency
    • sludge
    • wastewater treatment

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