Pharmaceutical compounds; a new challenge for wastewater treatment plants

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Analytical analyses conducted at the Himmerfjärden WWTP (285.000 PE connected) identified 70 pharmaceutical compounds belonging to different therapeutic classes. Such organic micropollutants at low detected concentration range of µg - ng l-1 did not affect the treatment processes at WWTP. Results from analytical studies indicated continuous discharge of organic micropollutants to the surface water with a calculated load amounting to 1.51 kg day-1. Metoprolol, carbamazepine and naproxen were chosen for testing different removal methods. Oxygen Uptake Rate (OUR) tests were conducted to assess the bacterial activity of an activated sludge taken from a full scale aeration plant with the presence of selected target compounds.A semi-technical scale membrane bioreactor ZeeWeed10™, treating final effluent from the Himmerfjärden WWTP (Sweden) was seeded with activated sludge from full scale biological stage. The membrane bioreactor (MBR) system placed after the final treatment appeared to be an insufficient technology for removal of residual amounts of organic micropollutants from WWTP effluents. Batch test studies with activated sludge taken from the membrane bioreactor and with application of granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration resulted in giving an overall assessment of removal efficiency. Metoprolol and carbamazepine tend to be resistant to the biodegradation process and in the dosed high concentration lead to bacterial cell decomposition in the activated sludge. Apparently, removal efficiency for naproxen exceeded the value of 46% with the spiked initial amount of 3.3 mg NAP g-1 MLSS. Application of the GAC filtration proved to be an efficient technique for removal of pharmaceutical compounds from treated wastewater.Application of the statistical programme Modde7 was a time saving tool in studies of fouling occurrence. The effect of fouling phenomenon, which is a highly limiting factor for MBR performance, was minimised by adjusting the operational parameters as predicted by the Modde7 programme.

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