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A study through batch tests on the analytical determination and the fate and removal of methamphetamine in the biological treatment of domestic wastewater

Boni, Maria Rosaria, Chiavola, Agostina, Di Marcantonio, Camilla, Sbaffoni, Silvia, Biagioli, Stefano, Cecchini, Giancarlo, Frugis, Alessandro
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.28 pp. 27756-27767
activated sludge, adsorption, autotrophic bacteria, bioactive properties, biological treatment, biomass, kinetics, liquids, methamphetamines, municipal wastewater, pollutants, tandem mass spectrometry, uncertainty, wastewater treatment, Europe
Methamphetamine (MET) is one of the most used illicit drugs in Europe and is recognized as one of the Emerging Organic Micropollutants. It is discharged into the sewerage system from different sources and then enters the wastewater treatment plants. The present study aimed at providing a better knowledge of the fate of MET through the wastewater treatment plants. The study addressed two different issues: (1) optimization of the analytical methods for MET determination in both liquid and sludge phases, focusing on the effects of potentially interfering substances and (2) investigation on the behaviour of MET in the biological treatment process, with specific concern for the biomass activity at different drug concentrations. Results of the study on issue 1 highlighted that the applied analytical method for MET determination (UPLC–MS/MS) is affected by the main components of wastewater for about 9–23%, which is comparable with the uncertainties of the method (about ± 28%). The method showed also to be repeatable and reliable (recovery > 75%; repeatability < 10–15%; bias uncertainty < 30%), and relatively easy-to-use. Therefore, it can be considered suitable for measurements on routine base in the WWTPs. Batch tests conducted to address issue 2 showed total removal of 84, 90, and 96% at 50, 100, and 200 ng/L initial MET concentration, respectively, for a contact time of 6 h. The removal process was mainly ascribed to the biological activity of both heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria. The pseudo first-order kinetic model provided the best fitting of the experimental data of the overall biological processes at all the tested concentrations. Furthermore, the respirometric tests showed that MET does not induce any inhibition. Adsorption of MET on activated sludge was always very low.