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Airborne Micro-Constituents

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The seemingly growing list of micro-constituents found in natural waters, drinking water and wastewater effluents raises an alarm. Whether the alarm is cause for real concern or just a reason to gain a greater understanding of the fate of micro-constituents in the environment is not known. Because of the uncertainty with respect to the fate of these compounds in the wastewater treatment process, the uncertainty of the risks associated with the air coming from wastewater treatment facilities is elevated.

Risk perception is often greater than actual risk. For airborne pathways, the perception is that a large wastewater treatment plant with large open water surfaces and a constant breeze passing over it carrying distinctive smells is evidence of a possible risk to public health.

There are several impediments to the transfer of micro-constituents from the liquid phase to the air phase and then from the plant to the receptor that greatly reduces the actual risk. Complete knowledge of the chemical properties for each and every micro-constituent is not needed to understand that the health risks of micro-constituents from airborne pathways are negligible.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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