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Biotoxicity assessment and toxicity mechanism on coal gasification wastewater (CGW): A comparative analysis of effluent from different treatment processes

Ma, Weiwei, Han, Yuxing, Xu, Chunyan, Han, Hongjun, Zhu, Hao, Li, Kun, Zheng, Mengqi
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.637-638 pp. 1-8
DNA, DNA damage, Tetrahymena thermophila, activated sludge, acute toxicity, aromatic compounds, bioassays, cell membranes, coal, gasification, genotoxicity, median effective concentration, oxidative stress, polar compounds, polycyclic compounds, risk, toxic substances, wastewater
Even though coal gasification wastewater (CGW) treated by various biochemical treatment processes generally met the national discharge standard, its potential biotoxicity was still unknown. Therefore, in this study, bioassay with Tetrahymena thermophila (T. thermophila) was conducted to comprehensively evaluate the variation of biotoxicity in raw CGW and the treated effluent from lab-scale micro-electrolysis integrated with biological reactor (MEBR), single iron-carbon micro-electrolysis (ICME) and conventional activated sludge (CAS) processes. The results illustrated that raw CGW presented intensive acute toxicity with 24 h EC50 value of 8.401% and toxic unit (TU) value of 11.90. Moreover, it performed significant cell membrane destruction and DNA damage even at 10% dilution concentration. The toxicant identification results revealed that multiple toxic polar compounds such as phenolic, heterocyclic and polycyclic aromatic compounds were the main contributors for biotoxicity. Furthermore, these compounds could accelerate oxidative stress, thereby inducing oxidative damage of cell membrane and DNA. As for treated effluent, TU value was decreased by 90.58% in MEBR process. An effective biotoxicity reduction was achieved in MEBR process owing to high removal efficiency in polar organic toxicants. In contrast, effluent from ICME and CAS processes presented relatively high acute toxicity and genotoxicity, because various heterocyclic and polycyclic aromatic compounds were difficult to be degraded in these processes. Therefore, it was suggested that MEBR was a potential and feasible process for improving CGW treatment and minimizing ecological risk.