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Assessment of the potential ecological risk of residual endocrine-disrupting chemicals from wastewater treatment plants

Jiang, Ruirun, Liu, Jiahui, Huang, Bi, Wang, Xiaowei, Luan, Tiangang, Yuan, Ke
The Science of the total environment 2020 v.714 pp. 136689
activated sludge, algae, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, estrone, fish, nonylphenols, oxidation, risk, wastewater treatment, China
Residual chemicals discharged from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and subsequent ecological risk are important in production safety when reuse of the effluent water occurs. Thus, this work provides an investigation of the occurrence and removal of dissolved Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in 38 WWTPs in Guangdong Province, China. The results indicate that EDCs are widely distributed in the investigated WWTPs, while nonylphenols (NPs) are the predominant chemical among the target EDCs, accounting for >98% of the concentration in the influent and >97% of the concentration in the effluent. Moreover, 4 main types of wastewater treatment processes (oxidation ditch, A2/O, conventional activated sludge and microaeration oxidation ditch followed by A2/O) were found to be inefficient for removing dissolved EDCs, with a mean removal rate of approximately 25%. The potential environmental risk was predicted for residual EDCs. Specifically, 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2) was considered to be the most hazardous chemical among the target EDCs, with a median risk quotient (RQ) of 8.94. In addition, β-estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) have median RQs of 1.14 and 0.27, and NPs have median RQs of 0.61 (algae), 0.37 (inverberate) and 0.25 (fish), respectively.