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Fate of aromatic hydrocarbons in Italian municipal wastewater systems: an overview of wastewater treatment using conventional activated-sludge processes (CASP) and membrane bioreactors (MBRs)



Fate of aromatic hydrocarbons in Italian municipal wastewater systems: an overview of wastewater treatment using conventional activated-sludge processes (CASP) and membrane bioreactors (MBRs)



Water Research 45(1): 93



We studied the occurrence, removal, and fate of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and 23 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Italian municipal wastewater treatment systems in terms of their common contents and forms, and their apparent and actual removal in both conventional activated-sludge processes (CASP) and membrane bioreactors (MBRs). We studied five representative full-scale CASP treatment plants (design capacities of 12,000 to 700,000 population-equivalent), three of which included MBR systems (one full-scale and two pilot-scale) operating in parallel with the conventional systems. We studied the solid-liquid partitioning and fates of these substances using both conventional samples and a novel membrane-equipped automatic sampler. Among the VOCs, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, styrene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and 4-chlorotoluene were ubiquitous, whereas naphthalene, acenaphthene, fluorene, and phenanthrene were the most common PAHs. Both PAHs and aromatic VOCs had removal efficiencies of 40-60% in the headworks, even in plants without primary sedimentation. Mainly due to volatilization, aromatic VOCs had comparable removal efficiencies in CASP and MBRs, even for different sludge ages. MBRs did not enhance the retention of PAHs sorbed to suspended particulates compared with CASPs. On the other hand, the specific daily accumulation of PAHs in the MBR's activated sludge decreased logarithmically with increasing sludge age, indicating enhanced biodegradation of PAHs. The PAH and aromatic VOC contents in the final effluent are not a major driver for widespread municipal adoption of MBRs, but MBRs may enhance the biodegradation of PAHs and their removal from the environment.

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Accession: 053215366

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 20804998

DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.08.011


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