Impact of activated sludge process configuration on removal of micropollutants and estrogenicity

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The efficacy of three different wastewater treatment configurations, conventional activated sludge (CAS), nitrifying activated sludge (NAS) and biological nutrient removal (BNR) for removal of selected micropollutants from authentic wastewater was investigated. The processes were also characterized based on their proficiency to reduce the estrogenic activity of the influent wastewater using the in vitro recombinant yeast assay. The removal efficiency of trimethoprim improved with the complexity of the three treatment process configurations. Ibuprofen, androstendione, sulfamethoxazole, nonyl-phenol, estrone and bisphenol-A had moderate to high removals (>65%) while carbamazepine and meprobamate remained recalcitrant in the three treatment process configurations. The removal of gemfibrozil was better in the NAS than in BNR and CAS treatment configurations. The yeast estrogen screen (YES) assay analyses showed an improvement in estrogenicity removal in the BNR and NAS treatment configurations as compared to the CAS treatment configuration. Comparing the estrogenic responses from the three treatment configurations, the removal efficiencies followed the order of BNR = NAS > CAS and all were greater than 81%.

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