Ozonation and biological activated carbon filtration of wastewater treatment plant effluents.Water Res. 2012 Mar 01; 46(3):863-72.WR
This study investigates the fate of trace organic chemicals (TrOCs) in three full-scale reclamation plants using ozonation followed by biological activated carbon (BAC) filtration to treat wastewater treatment plant effluents. Chemical analysis was used to quantify a wide range of TrOCs and combined with bioanalytical tools to assess non-specific toxicity (Microtox assay) and estrogenicity (E-SCREEN assay). Limited dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal (<10%) was observed in the ozonation stages showing that oxidation leads to the formation of transformation products rather than mineralization. The quantified TrOCs were removed to a degree highly dependent on the compounds' structures and the specific ozone dose (mg(O3) mg(DOC)(-1)). Non-specific toxicity was reduced by 31-39%, demonstrating that the mixture of remaining parent compounds and their transformation products as well as newly formed oxidation by-products had an overall lower toxic potential than the mixture of parent compounds. Estrogenicity was reduced by more than 87% indicating that the transformation products of the estrogenic chemicals lost their specific toxicity potential. The subsequent BAC filtration removed between 20 and 50% of the DOC depending on the plant configuration, likely due to biodegradation of organic matter. The filtration was also able to reduce the concentrations of most of the remaining TrOCs by up to 99%, and reduce non-specific toxicity by 33-54%. Overall, the combination of ozonation and BAC filtration can achieve removals of 50% for DOC and more than 90% for a wide range of TrOCs as well as a reduction of 70% of non-specific toxicity and more than 95% of estrogenicity. This process combination is therefore suggested as an effective barrier to reduce the discharge of TrOCs into the environment or their presence in water recycling schemes.