Author(s): Fortunato R, Crespo JG, Reis MA
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Abstract Thiomersal, a toxic organomercurial with a strong bactericidal effect, is the most widely used preservative in vaccine production. As a result, vaccine production wastewaters are frequently polluted with thiomersal concentrations above the European limit for mercury effluent discharges for which there is, presently, no remediation technology available. This work proposes a biotechnological process for the remediation of vaccine production wastewaters based on the biological degradation of thiomersal to metallic mercury, under aerobic conditions, by a mercury resistant bacterial strain. The kinetics of thiomersal degradation by a pure culture of Pseudomonas putida spi3 was firstly investigated in batch reactors using a thiomersal amended mineral medium. Subsequently, a continuous stirred tank reactor fed with the same medium was operated at a dilution rate of 0.05 h(-1), and the bioreactor performance and robustness was evaluated when exposed to thiomersal shock loads. In a second stage, the bioreactor was fed directly with a real vaccine wastewater contaminated with thiomersal and the culture ability to grow in the wastewater and remediate it was evaluated for dilution rates ranging from 0.022 to 0.1 h(-1).
This article was published in Water Res
and referenced in Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques