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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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ABSTRACT: 

Although pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are largely unregulated, water resource recovery facilities are increasingly using advanced chemical/physical treatment technologies (e.g., advanced oxidation and reverse osmosis) to remove or destroy these trace organic contaminants (TOrCs). This can both reduce potential adverse human health effects in reuse applications and mitigate environmental effects on aquatic ecosystems. Unfortunately, advanced treatment technologies are typically energy intensive and costly to implement, operate, and maintain. The goal of this study was to determine whether optimization of solids retention time (SRT) provided sufficient benefits to warrant such operational strategies for TOrC mitigation. Specifically, SRTs of 5.5, 6, and 15 days were evaluated to determine the effects on several standard wastewater parameters (e.g., nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia concentrations) and the degradation of TOrCs. The experimental SRTs were operated simultaneously in parallel, full-scale activated sludge basins. The results indicate that it can be beneficial to implement biological process optimization strategies using existing infrastructure while reducing reliance on advanced treatment technologies. This study also identified potential operational issues that might arise in activated sludge systems operating at extended SRTs.
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Keywords: activated sludge; endocrine disrupting compound; pharmaceuticals and personal care products; solids retention time; trace organic contaminant; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-08-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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