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Identification of effective parameters for anti-inflammatory concentration in València City's wastewater using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis

Bellver-Domingo, Águeda, Maldonado-Devis, Mónica, Hernández-Sancho, Francesc, Carmona, Eric, Picó, Yolanda
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.663 pp. 110-124
hospitals, income, nursing homes, risk, surface water, urban areas, wastewater, wastewater treatment, Spain
The current literature about pharmaceutical and personal care compounds (PPCPs) focuses on identifying their concentration and toxicological risk both in surface water and in wastewater. However, the influence of urban areas (population ageing, income level, hospitals and others) has not yet been analysed. Knowing how a population (and its facilities) affects PPCPs' presence in wastewater is important to identify the conditions that are responsible for their presence. In this work, the influence of water consumption, population ageing, income level, hospitals and nursing homes on the anti-inflammatory concentration have been analysed. To fill the gap between the quantitative data on PPCPs' concentration and the qualitative reasoning of the influence of urban areas on the anti-inflammatory concentration, the use of fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) is proposed. The fsQCA results are presented as recipes that show the different causal combinations of conditions that explain the presence of anti-inflammatories in wastewater. Using fsQCA for urban wastewater management with the aim of explaining the presence of anti-inflammatories in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a novelty in the literature. The results obtained here show the influence of water consumption (WATCON), hospitals (HOSP) and population ageing (POPAG) as the main conditions for the anti-inflammatory concentration in Valèncian wastewater. Specifically, these conditions are present in all the recipes obtained with consistency of 99%. Through the results obtained, it would be possible to identify that HOSP are the main facilities that discharge anti-inflammatories into urban wastewater. Hence, the necessity of preventive measures to avoid the anti-inflammatory discharge into water bodies has been showed. Furthermore, under a methodological point of view, this work highlights the eligibility of fsQCA as a wastewater cycle management tool.