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The fate of emerging contaminants in wastewater treatment plants Simhon, Michal Vered


Potential risk and toxicity of emerging contaminants (ECs) on the human population and the surrounding ecosystem have led to growing concern in the scientific world. This class of contaminants includes a variety of commonly used compounds such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, as well as industry-based compounds such as surfactants and plasticizers. There are many challenges involved when studying these contaminants with the most apparent one relating to the lack of a standardized analytical method. As a result, this research investigated and optimized an analytical method for the determination of selected EC compounds in the soluble and particulate fractions of samples collected from the wastewater treatment pilot plant located at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Once the method was optimized, the effects of hydraulic retention time (HRT) and solids retention time (SRT) on the fate of ECs through the wastewater treatment process were studied using the UBC membrane biological nutrient removal pilot plant. The study involving the HRT failed to provide sufficient evidence to adequately assess the observed effects, since an inadequate quantity of each contaminant was spiked into the pilot plant. However, the spiking quantity was adjusted for the individual contaminants based on these observations, enabling the effect of the SRT to be studied. All analytes exhibited one of two trends during the mass balance analysis. For all of the EC compounds that were studied, sorption to the mixed liquor particulates and washout in the effluent were not the only removal mechanisms in the experimental system of the UBC pilot plant.

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