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Consolidated vs new advanced treatment methods for the removal of contaminants of emerging concern from urban wastewater

Rizzo, Luigi, Malato, Sixto, Antakyali, Demet, Beretsou, Vasiliki G., Đolić, Maja B., Gernjak, Wolfgang, Heath, Ester, Ivancev-Tumbas, Ivana, Karaolia, Popi, Lado Ribeiro, Ana R., Mascolo, Giuseppe, McArdell, Christa S., Schaar, Heidemarie, Silva, Adrián M.T., Fatta-Kassinos, Despo
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.655 pp. 986-1008
activated sludge, adsorption, adverse effects, anthropogenic activities, aquatic organisms, best available technology, carbon, disinfection, experts, filtration, humans, oxidation, ozonation, toxicity, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are among the main anthropogenic sources for the release of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) into the environment, which can result in toxic and adverse effects on aquatic organisms and consequently on humans. Unfortunately, WWTPs are not designed to remove CECs and secondary (e.g., conventional activated sludge process, CAS) and tertiary (such as filtration and disinfection) treatments are not effective in the removal of most CECs entering WWTP. Accordingly, several advanced treatment methods have been investigated for the removal of CECs from wastewater, including consolidated (namely, activated carbon (AC) adsorption, ozonation and membranes) and new (such as advanced oxidation processes (AOPs)) processes/technologies. This review paper gathers the efforts of a group of international experts, members of the NEREUS COST Action ES1403 who for three years have been constructively discussing the state of the art and the best available technologies for the advanced treatment of urban wastewater. In particular, this work critically reviews the papers available in scientific literature on consolidated (ozonation, AC and membranes) and new advanced treatment methods (mainly AOPs) to analyse: (i) their efficiency in the removal of CECs from wastewater, (ii) advantages and drawbacks, (iii) possible obstacles to the application of AOPs, (iv) technological limitations and mid to long-term perspectives for the application of heterogeneous processes, and (v) a technical and economic comparison among the different processes/technologies.