Removal of five acidic pharmaceuticals (ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and clofibric acid) by activated sludge from five municipal activated sludge treatment processes, with various sludge ages and nitrification capacities, was assessed through batch experiments. The increase in aerobic sludge age from 1-3 to 7 days seemed to be critical for the removal of naproxen and ketoprofen, with markedly higher rates of removal at sludge ages of 7 days or more. No removal was shown for diclofenac and clofibric acid, while high rates were observed for ibuprofen in all investigated sludges. Parallel examinations of activated sludge batches with and without allylthiourea (12 mg/L), an inhibitor of ammonia monooxygenase, showed minor to moderate influence on the removal rates of ketoprofen and naproxen. These results suggest that the removal rates of biodegradable pharmaceuticals in municipal activated sludge processes are strongly linked to the heterotrophic bacteria community.
- Activated sludge
- Solid retention time