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Seasonal variation of endocrine disrupting compounds, pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater treatment plants

Yu, Yong, Wu, Laosheng, Chang, Andrew C.
The Science of the total environment 2013 v.442 pp. 310-316
effluents, estrone, human health, humans, ibuprofen, personal care products, risk, seasonal variation, sewage sludge, sewage treatment, summer, wastewater, wastewater treatment, winter, California
The occurrence of 14 endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in influents, effluents and sludge from five wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in southern California was studied in winter and summer. All 14 compounds were detected in influent samples from the five WWTPs except for estrone. Paracetamol, naproxen and ibuprofen were the dominant compounds, with mean concentrations of 41.7, 35.7 and 22.3μg/L, respectively. The treatment removal efficiency for most compounds was more than 90% and concentrations in the effluents were relatively low. Seasonal variation of the compounds' concentration in the wastewater was significant: the total concentration of each compound in the wastewater was higher in winter than in summer, which is attributed to more human consumption of pharmaceuticals during winter and faster degradation of the compounds in summer. The highest concentrations of triclosan and octylphenol were detected in sewage sludge, with mean concentrations of 1505 and 1179ng/g, respectively. Risk quotients (RQs), expressed as the ratios of environmental concentrations and the predicted no-effect concentrations (PNEC), were less than unity for all the compounds except for estrone in the effluents, indicating no immediate ecological risk is expected. However, RQs were higher than unity for 2 EDCs (estrone and octylphenol) and carbamazepine in sludge samples, indicating a significant ecotoxicological risk to human health. Therefore, appropriate treatment of sewage sludge is required before its application.