Behaviour of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting chemicals in simplified sewage treatment systems.

Abstract

This work assessed the behaviour of nine pharmaceuticals and/or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in demo-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors (UASB reactors) coupled to distinct simplified post-treatment units (submerged bed, polishing ponds, and trickling filters) fed on raw sewage taken from a municipality in Brazil. The dissolved concentration of the studied micropollutants in the raw and treated sewage was obtained using solid phase extraction (SPE) followed by analysis in a liquid chromatography system coupled to a hybrid high resolution mass spectrometer consisting of an ion-trap and time of flight (LC-MS-IT-TOF). The UASB reactors demonstrated that they were not appropriate for efficiently removing the assessed compounds from the sewage. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that the hydraulic retention time (HRT) was an important parameter for the removal of the hydrophilic and less biodegradable compounds, such as trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole. The post-treatment units substantially increased the removal of most target micropollutants present in the anaerobic effluents, with a greater removal of micropollutants in simplified systems that require a large construction area, such as the submerged bed and polishing ponds, probably because of the higher HRT employed. Alternatively, compact post-treatment systems, such as trickling filters, tended to be less effective at removing most of the micropollutants studied, and the type of packing proved to be crucial for determining the fate of such compounds using trickling filters

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