Author(s): Marc M Huber, Anke Gbel, Adriano Joss, Nadine Hermann, Dirk Lffler
To reduce the release of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors into the aquatic environment or to remove them from wastewater intended for direct or indirect reuse, the application of advanced wastewater treatment may be required. In the present study, municipal wastewater effluents were treated with ozone (O3) in a pilot-scale plant consisting of two bubble columns. The investigated effluents, which varied in suspended solids concentrations, comprised an effluent of conventional activated sludge treatment (CAS), the same effluent dosed with 15 mg of TSS L-1 of activated sludge (CAS + SS), and the effluent of a membrane bioreactor pilot plant (MBR). Selected classes of pharmaceuticals were spiked in the wastewater at realistic levels ranging from 0.5 to 5 μg L-1. Samples taken at the inlet and the outlet of the pilot plant were analyzed with liquid chromatography (LC)−electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (MS). Macrolide and sulfonamide antibiotics, estrogens, and the acidic pharmaceuticals diclofenac, naproxen, and indomethacin were oxidized by more than 90−99% for O3 doses ≥ 2 mg L-1 in all effluents. X-ray contrast media and a few acidic pharmaceuticals were only partly oxidized, but no significant differences were observed among the three effluents. These results show that many pharmaceuticals present in wastewater can be efficiently oxidized with O3 and that suspended solids have only a minor influence on the oxidation efficiency of nonsorbing micropollutants.