Biochar for the removal of detected micropollutants in South African domestic wastewater: a case study from a demonstration-scale decentralised wastewater treatment system in eThekwini
Keywords:liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, online solid phase extraction, organic micropollutants, pharmaceuticals, antiretrovirals, antibiotics, biochar adsorption
The presence of micropollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, in surface and ground water has escalated globally, leading to adverse effects on aquatic organisms in receiving waters. Untreated or inadequately treated wastewater is the main source of micropollutants entering the environment. In South Africa, the consumption of antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs is relatively higher than other nations; however, little data exists on the identification and remediation of micropollutants in domestic wastewater. In this study, a novel method to detect and measure 71 micropollutants using online solid phase extraction liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry was developed. To test the method in the South African context, grab samples of the influent and anaerobically treated effluent (AF effluent) from a demonstration-scale decentralised wastewater treatment system in eThekwini (Durban) were taken over 3 consecutive days at 2 time points. The presence of 24 micropollutants was detected in the raw wastewater, with analgesics/anti-inflammatory drugs, antiretrovirals, and antibiotics showing the highest concentrations and with the majority of compounds still present in the AF effluent. One antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, exceeded its predicted no-effect concentration in all influent and AF effluent samples. This suggests that the anaerobic treatment of the raw wastewater was not effective in removing micropollutants. Preliminary data from lab-scale adsorption experiments using biochar produced from a set of 4 feedstocks – olive residues, tomato residues, rice husks, and the African palm tree Raphia farinifera – showed average removal rates for 4 compounds of up to 62%. The application of biochar is thus recommended as a secondary treatment step in decentralised wastewater treatment for the removal of micropollutants in South Africa.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Jana Späth, Preyan Arumugam, Richard H Lindberg, Ovokeroye A Abafe, Stina Jansson, Jerker Fick
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