Mass loading and emission of thirty-seven pharmaceuticals in a typical municipal wastewater treatment plant in Hunan Province, Southern China
Abstract The occurrence, fate, mass loading and environmental emission of 37 pharmaceuticals were studied through an integrated approach involving both dissolved and adsorbed phase at a typical wastewater treatment plant in Hunan Province, Southern China. The results displayed the prevalence of 24 and 23 compounds in dissolved phase of influent and effluent, respectively. Fourteen compounds were found adsorbed onto sludge with a mean concentration ranging from 0.85 to 2900μg/kg dry weight. Twelve compounds exhibited high adsorption potential onto suspended particulate matter (SPM) with a mean fraction ranging from 8.8% (trimethoprim) to 97% (tetracycline). Furthermore, SPM showed a diverse absorbability in influent and effluent water circumstance. The overall elimination varied from −16% for lincomycin to 99% for paracetamol, while macrolides were able to withstand the whole treatment process. Mass balance analysis indicated that degradation was the predominant removal pathway for most compounds, and adsorption onto sludge combined with a minor portion of degradation explained for the reduction of tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones, whereas macrolides were recalcitrant to both two processes. The total mass loading was estimated to be up to 2800mg/d/1000 inhabitants and most compounds exhibited lower or comparable level comparing to the global published data. The total environmental emission was estimated up to be 1000mg/d/1000 inhabitants, and a value of 650mg/d/1000 inhabitants was obtained when considering merely the dissolved phase. This work would be helpful for the better understanding of ultimate fate and real pollution of pharmaceuticals in the water environment. Highlights A comprehensive study on 37 pharmaceuticals in both dissolved and adsorbed phase. Tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones mainly exist in adsorbed phase. Mass loadings are lower than or comparable to those reported in other studies. Environmental emissions are ranging from 0.29 to 200mg/d/1000 inhabitants. More attention should be paid to the contaminations adsorbed onto SPM. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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