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Organic matter (OM) of wastewater samples collected from a full-scale activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was characterized in terms of molecular weight distribution and fluorescence signature. This characterization was aimed to identify any possible structural change in WW OM during treatment. The activated sludge system preferentially removed the low and high molecular weight fractions (MWF). MWFs shifted from having a skewed distribution toward the low MWF (< 0.5 K amu) in the raw WW toward a non-normal distribution with most of the OM in the intermediate MWF (0.5-3K amu) in the treated WW. Accumulation of intermediate MWF may be attributed to the generation of soluble microbial products (SMPs) with MW that falls within this fraction. Three characteristics peaks were identified in the most of the samples analyzed by fluorescence spectroscopy. The mean position of these peaks were Ex/Em = 215-220/353-356 nm (Peak A); Ex/Em = 270-280/ 358 nm (Peak B); Ex/Em = 330/417 nm (Peak C). Peaks A and B were identified as tryptophan-like, or protein-like peaks. The maximum fluorescence intensity per mg of DOC of peak B and C increased after treatment. Peak C was identified as humic-like and clearly observed only in treated WW samples. Peak C may be correlated to the formation of SMPs during treatment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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