Removal of trace organic contaminants from domestic wastewater: A meta-analysis comparison of sewage treatment technologies
Trace organic contaminants (TrOCs), such as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), represent global threats to aquatic animals and ecosystems. A major source of TrOCs in the aquatic environment is via the discharge of treated sewage, so there is an urgent need to evaluate the comparative efficiencies of the most widely used sewage treatment technologies as regards elimination of these compounds from wastewater. To address this need, 976 published articles were compiled focusing on estimates of removal (%) for 20 common environmental TrOCs, from five major sewage treatment technologies: conventional activated sludge (CAS), oxidation ditch (OD), membrane bioreactor (MBR), ponds and constructed wetlands (PCW), and trickling biological filters (TBF). A quantitative meta-analysis was performed to compare standardized relative removal efficiencies (SREs) of the compounds amongst these technologies, and where possible potential sources of heterogeneity were considered (e.g., flow rates and chemical sorption potential). The results indicate that the most widely used CAS treatment and the less common TBF provide comparatively poor overall removal of common organic micropollutants. Membrane bioreactors appear to be capable of achieving the greatest overall removal efficiencies, but the sustainability and economic viability of this option has been questioned. Treatment with OD systems may be more economical while still achieving comparatively high removal efficiencies, and the analysis revealed OD to be the best option for targeting highly potent estrogenic EDCs. This study offers a unique global assessment of TrOC removal via leading sewage treatment technologies, and is an important step in the identification of effective options for treating municipal sewage.
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified