Removal of endocrine disrupting chemicals in a large scale membrane bioreactor plant combined with anaerobic-anoxic-oxic process for municipal wastewater reclamation

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The removal of eight typical endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in a full scale membrane bioreactor combined with anaerobic-anoxic-oxic process (A2/O-MBR) for municipal wastewater reclamation located in Beijing was investigated. These EDCs, including 4-octylphenol (4-OP), 4-n-nonylphenol (4-n-NP), bisphenol A (BPA), estrone (E1), 17α-estradiol (17α-E2), 17β-estradiol (17β-E2), estriol (E3) and 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), were simultaneously analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry after derivatization. The concentrations of eight EDCs were also measured in sludge of anaerobic, anoxic, oxic and membrane tanks to measure sludge-water distribution coefficients (Kd values) as the indicator of adsorption propensity of target compound to sludge. The removal efficiencies of EDCs reached above 97%, except for 4-n-NP removal efficiency of 72%, 4-OP removal efficiency of 75% and EE2 removal efficiency of 87% in the A2/O-MBR process. The high Kd values indicated that the sludge had a large adsorption capacity for these EDCs, and significantly contributed to removal of EDCs. Yeast estrogen screen assay was performed on samples to assess the total estrogenic activity by measuring the 17β-E2 equivalent quantity (EEQ), expressed in ng-EEQ/L. The measured EEQ value was markedly reduced from 72.1 ng-EEQ/L in the influent to 4.9 ng-EEQ/L in the effluent. Anoxic tank and anaerobic tank contributed to 80% and 37% in total EEQ removal, respectively.

Keywords: endocrine disrupting chemicals, estrogenic activity, membrane bioreactor, municipal wastewater, sludge adsorption

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