Optimizing removal of estrogenic compounds in biosolids: a comparison of anaerobic, post-aerobic, and cambi digestion

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ABSTRACT

Anaerobic digestion is a key treatment step during wastewater treatment because it is often the final significant solids treatment process prior to land application. Land application of biosolids is a vital practice for sustainable waste management; therefore, the presence of estrogenic compounds in biosolids is one concern to this practice. Three digestion processes were studied to determine the optimal method for removing these estrogenic micropollutants: mesophilic anaerobic digestion (MAD), MAD with a post-aerobic digestion phase, and thermal hydrolysis pretreatment followed by MAD. Specific estrogenic compounds were quantified via liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and total estrogenicity was quantified using the yeast estrogen screen (YES) assay. MAD followed by post-aerobic digestion resulted in a significant reduction in estrogenicity.

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