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The Importance of Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Microconstituents in the Selection of Treatment Technologies

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Abstract:

Some Microconstituents are known or potential Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs). Known EDCs can come from groups of compounds such as human and veterinary drugs, pesticides and industrial chemicals. Only some of the compounds in these groups are EDCs. EDCs include naturally occurring and synthetic steroid hormones, organohalides, metals, alkylphenols, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, crude oil and plasticizers. These compounds may interfere with hormone processes in both humans and wildlife. EDCs are being detected more in the environment in water, wastewater and biosolids as more studies are done and analytical techniques have progressed. This topic has galvanized the scientific, regulatory and public communities alike.

This paper discusses the physical and chemical properties of these microconstituents and what types of treatment technologies are evaluated and used on projects. An approach for evaluating and developing wastewater treatment solutions is discussed. The approach includes first using process modeling to determine expected treatment performance using the physical and chemical properties. Bench-scale and pilot-scale treatability studies are then included in the approach to test treatment processes in the laboratory or field prior to design. Another part of the approach is developing and using cost and non-cost evaluation criteria to screen alternatives prior to the treatability testing.

Three pharmaceutical case studies will be presented to show how treatment solutions are both plant location and compound specific. One case study will show how a pharmaceutical compound, which passes through conventional treatment, can be destroyed in pretreatment and reduce effluent toxicity. A second case study will show how one company determined the removal of a pharmaceutical active through treatability testing. A third case study will show an approach for determining the ultimate fate of the microconstituents and what percentage ends up in the treated effluent and in biosolids.

The various case studies will show how the approach ties together the key issues and selection criteria to the overall selection of technologies. The combination of treatment technologies selected is used to achieve treatment/destruction of microconstituents and EDCs and determine the ultimate fate of the EDCs through treatment.

Keywords: active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs); advanced oxidation processes (AOPs); membrane bioreactors; microconstituents; pharmaceutical wastewater treatment; process modeling

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864709793952495

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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