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Municipal wastewater is highly contaminated by pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and (subtle) effects such as feminization of fish have already been found in the receiving waters of wastewater treatment plants. Due to the wide spread of PPCPs in rivers and groundwater also a contamination of drinking water is known in some cases. The EU project POSEIDON established a basic knowledge on the removal of PPCPs and estrogens in wastewater and drinking water treatment. Both wastewater technology and drinking water technology optimized for the removal of domestic chemicals can be applied world-wide for indirect water reuse. Based on the POSEIDON outcome, a form of BAT (Best Available Technology) for water treatment concerning PPCP removal was proposed and will provide a basis to implement administrative measures with regard to persistent domestic chemicals as contaminants of reclaimed wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges.

Concerning wastewater treatment processes it could be shown that

the removal of PPCPs by sorption onto suspended solids is an important mechanism for hydrophobic compounds and compounds with positively charged functional groups (e.g. amines).

sludge retention time (SRT) has major influence on biological degradation efficiency, mainly due to its influence on the diversity of the microbial population and on the multitude of degradation pathways being expressed; a SRT of≥10 days is recommended

due to first order kinetics of biological PPCP degradation the removal in a single completely stirred reactor is significantly lower as compared to the same total volume subdivided into cascaded compartments

ozonation of treated effluent substantially reduces the PPCP concentrations at feasible cost with the exception of iodinated contrast media

post-filtration leads to partial degradation of some antibiotics not degraded at 10-15 d SRT in the biological step

stripping is not relevant for PPCP removal in state-of-the-art municipal wastewater treatment

estrogens can be eliminated in WWTPs by applying a nitrification/denitrification step (SRTs ≥ 15 days), or by effluent ozonation or nanofiltration or activated carbon

anaerobic sludge digestion leads to a degradation of some PPCPs

for most of the PPCPs such as antibiotics only advanced technologies (effluent ozonation, nanofiltration or activated carbon) lead to an efficient removal

source control (e.g. ecolabelling) and source separation (e.g. urine or rain water segregation) are important measures for reducing the PPCP load entering the environment (e.g. exfiltration or storm overflow) and improving the wastewater treatment efficiency (i.e. reducing dilution).

Concerning indirect potable water reuse it was revealed that

planned indirect potable reuse of municipal wastewater is a feasible option concerning PPCP removal

irrigation and soil passage leads to the removal of most PPCPs (>80%) either by sorption or by degradation

direct infiltration of wastewater into groundwater should be avoided due to PPCP contamination of the groundwater.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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