Assessment of the importance of sorption for steroid estrogens removal during activated sludge treatment

Henrik Rasmus Andersen, Martin Hansen, Jesper Kjølholt, Frank Stuer-Lauridsen, Thomas Ternes, Bent Halling-Sørensen

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Abstract

Distribution coefficients (K-d) between water and activated sludge particles (f(oc) = 27.7 +/- 0.1%) were measured for the steroid estrogens (SE), estrone (E1), 17 beta-estradiol (E2) and 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2) in batch experiments. Experimental concentration levels ranged from environmentally realistic low ng/l to the high mu g/l. In this range K(d)s were independent of their water concentration. The experimentally obtained K(d)s (with 95% confidence intervals) were 402 +/- 126 l/kg, 476 +/- 192 l/kg and 584 +/- 136 l/kg for E1, E2 and EE2, respectively.

K(d)s were used to estimate the fraction of the total SE concentration that is expected to be sorbed in the activated sludge treatment tanks of a typical STP assuming equilibrium conditions. Assuming a suspended solids concentration of 4 g/l dissolved solids (ds), it was estimated that 61 +/- 9%, 66 +/- 13% and 70 +/- 6% of the total concentration of E1, E2 and EE2, respectively, would be sorbed during activated sludge treatment.

The fraction of the SEs that was expected to be sorbed to suspended sludge particles in the effluents from a typical Danish STP was estimated to be only 0.20 +/- 0.06%, 0.24 +/- 0.10% and 0.29 +/- 0.07% of the total concentration of El, E2 and EE2, respectively, at a suspended solids concentration of 5 mg/l ds.

For a typical STP the removal of steroid estrogens with excess sludge was estimated to be only 1.5-1.8% of the total loading if equilibrium conditions exists. Sorption is therefore not important for the fate of SEs in STPs compared to biodegradation. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemosphere
Volume61
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)139-146
ISSN0045-6535
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Sludge
  • Steroid estrogens
  • Distribution coefficient
  • Sorption
  • Sewage treatment

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