Modelling of the fate of selected endocrine disruptors in a municipal wastewater treatment plant in South East Queensland, Australia
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The aim of this study was to develop a fugacity-based analysis of the fate of selected industrial compounds (alkylphenols and phthalates) with endocrine disrupting properties in a conventional activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (WWTP A) in South East Queensland, Australia. Using mass balance principles, a fugacity model was developed for correlating and predicting the steady-state-phase concentrations, the process stream fluxes, and the fate of four phthalates and four alkylphenols in WWTP A. Input data are the compound's physicochemical properties, measured concentrations and the plant's operating design and parameters. The relative amounts of chemicals that are likely to be volatilized, sorbed to sludge, biotransformed, and discharge in the effluent water was determined. Since it was difficult to predict biotransformation, measured concentrations were used to calibrate the model in terms of biotransformation rate constant. Results obtained by applying the model for the eight compounds showed <40% differences between most of the estimated and measured data from WWTP A. All eight compounds that were modelled in this study had high removal efficacy from WWTP A. Apart from benzyl butyl phthalate and bisphenol A, the majority is removed via biotransformation followed by a lesser proportion removed with the primary sludge. Fugacity analysis provides useful insight into compound fate in a WWTP and with further calibration and validation the model should be useful for correlative and predictive purposes.