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The Effects of Solids Retention Time in Full-Scale Activated Sludge Basins on Trace Organic Contaminant Concentrations

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Although pharmaceuticals, personal care products (PPCPs), and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are largely unregulated, wastewater utilities are now employing advanced chemical/physical treatment technologies (e.g., advanced oxidation and reverse osmosis) to remove or destroy these trace organic contaminants (TOrCs). This is an effort to reduce potential human health effects in reuse applications and mitigate environmental impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Unfortunately, these advanced treatment technologies are generally energy intensive and costly to implement, operate, and maintain. The goal of this study was to determine whether optimization of solids retention time (SRT) provides sufficient benefits to warrant such operational strategies for TOrC mitigation. Specifically, this study evaluated SRTs of 6, 7, 7.5, and 15 days to determine the effects on standard wastewater parameters (e.g., nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia), the degradation of TOrCs, and the development of microbial communities. These SRTs were operated simultaneously in parallel, full-scale activated sludge basins. The results of this study indicate it may be beneficial to implement biological process optimization strategies to exploit existing infrastructure and reduce the reliance on advanced treatment technologies.
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Keywords: Activated sludge; endocrine disrupting compound (EDC); pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs); solids retention time (SRT); trace organic contaminant (TOrC)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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