The effect of aeration on the removal of wastewater-derived pharmaceutical residues from groundwater – a laboratory study

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Several studies on waste- or drinking water treatment processes as well as on groundwater have recently shown that some pharmaceutical residues (PRs) are redox-sensitive. Hence, their (bio)degradation depends on the redox conditions prevalent in the aquifer. Groundwater, providing raw water for drinking water production, is often anoxic and aeration is a widespread treatment method applied mainly to eliminate unwanted iron and manganese from the water. As a side-effect, aeration may trigger the elimination of PRs. Within the present study the influence of aeration on the fate of a number of wastewater derived analgesics and their residues as well as several antimicrobial compounds was investigated. For this purpose, anoxic groundwater was transferred into stainless steel tanks, some of which were aerated while others were continuously kept anoxic. Results prove that the degradation of six phenazone type compounds is dependent on oxygen availability and compounds are efficiently removed under oxic conditions only. Concerning the antimicrobials, doxycycline and trimethoprim were better removed during aeration, whereas a slightly improved removal under anoxic conditions was observed for clindamycin, roxithromycin and clarithromycin. The study provides first laboratory proof of the redox-sensitivity of several organic trace pollutants. In addition, results demonstrate that aeration is an effective treatment for the elimination of a number of wastewater derived PRs.

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