Life Cycle Assessment of urban wastewater reuse with ozonation as tertiary treatment: a focus on toxicity-related impacts.Sci Total Environ. 2009 Feb 01; 407(4):1245-56.ST
Life Cycle Assessment has been used to compare different scenarios involving wastewater reuse, with special focus on toxicity-related impact categories. The study is based on bench-scale experiments applying ozone and ozone in combination with hydrogen peroxide to a wastewater effluent from a Spanish sewage treatment plant. Two alternative characterisation models have been used to account for toxicity of chemical substances, namely USES-LCA and EDIP97. Four alternative scenarios have been assessed: wastewater discharge plus desalination supply, wastewater reuse without tertiary treatment, wastewater reuse after applying a tertiary treatment consisting on ozonation, and wastewater reuse after applying ozonation in combination with hydrogen peroxide. The results highlight the importance of including wastewater pollutants in LCA of wastewater systems assessing toxicity, since the contribution of wastewater pollutants to the overall toxicity scores in this case study can be above 90%. Key pollutants here are not only heavy metals and other priority pollutants, but also non-regulated pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Wastewater reuse after applying any of the tertiary treatments considered appears as the best choice from an ecotoxicity perspective. As for human toxicity, differences between scenarios are smaller, and taking into account the experimental and modelling uncertainty, the benefits of tertiary treatment are not so clear. From a global warming potential perspective, tertiary treatments involve a potential 85% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with desalination.