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Diethylhexyl phthalate removal in full scale activated sludge plants: Effect of operational parameters

Gani, Khalid Muzamil, Bux, Faizal, Kazmi, Absar Ahmad
Chemosphere 2019 v.234 pp. 885-892
activated sludge, cost effectiveness, developing countries, environmental quality, municipal wastewater, oxygen, phthalates, plasticizers, pollutants, principal component analysis, sewage, surface water, temperature, wastewater treatment
Removal of emerging contaminants (ECs) is a serious concern in wastewater industry especially for public acceptance of reclaimed water. Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is one of the ubiquitous and detectable plasticizers in municipal wastewater across the globe. Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) has prioritized it for the establishment of discharge regulations. A cost-effective strategy, especially for developing nations, may be the re-engineering of the existing biological process for the simultaneous removal of ECs and conventional pollutants. Wastewater treatment plants are one of the main sources for DEHP occurrence in surface water. In this study, possible role of activated sludge process operational parameters in effective removal of DEHP was assessed. Principal component analysis of occurrence data showed dissimilarity with the organic and nutrient characteristics of sewage. DEHP concentration in more than half (55%) of treated wastewater samples was more than environmental quality standard value for inland and surface water bodies (1.3 μg/L). At a mixed liquor suspended solid (MLSS) concentration range of 3461–4972 mg/L, overall removal was 23.9 μg/gMLSS.d (92 ± 6%) with biodegraded portion as 22.4 μg/gMLSS.d (85 ± 4%) and sorbed portion of 1.5 μg/gMLSS.d (7 ± 4%). DEHP removal showed an increasing trend at higher oxygen uptake rates (OUR) of sludge with DEHP removal of 8.1 μg DEHP/gMLSS.d (70 ± 6%), in the OUR range of 20-28mgO2/L/h. Increase in overall removal of DEHP showed a positive correlation (r2 = 0.7) with increasing sludge retention time (SRT) and so does the decreasing food to microorganism (F/M) ratio with increasing removal of DEHP (r2 = 0.8). A temperature decrease of 13 °C caused a decrease of 30% in overall removal of DEHP.