Assessing the removal of organic micropollutants from wastewater by discharging drinking water sludge to sewers



Publication Details

Kulandaivelu, J., Choi, P., Shrestha, S., Li, X., Song, Y., Li, J., Sharma, K., Yuan, Z., Mueller, J., Wang, C. & Jiang, G. (2020). Assessing the removal of organic micropollutants from wastewater by discharging drinking water sludge to sewers. Water Research, 181


© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Discharging drinking water treatment sludge (DWTS) to sewers could be an efficient waste management strategy with the potential to replace chemical dosing for pollutant control. This study for the first time investigated the fate of 28 different organic micropollutants (MPs) due to the dosing of iron-rich and aluminum-rich DWTS in a pilot rising main sewer. Nine MPs had an initial rapid removal within 1-hr (i.e., 10–80%) due to Fe-DWTS dosing. The formation of FeS particles due to Fe-DWTS dosing was responsible for the removal of dissolved sulfides (80% reduction comparing to control sewer). Further particle characterization using SEM-EDS, XRD and ATR-FTIR confirmed that FeS particles formation played an important role in the removal of MPs from wastewater. Adsorption of MPs onto the FeS particles was likely the possible mechanism for their rapid removal. In comparison to iron-rich DWTS, aluminum-rich DWTS had very limited beneficial effects in removing MPs from wastewater. The degradability of degradable MPs, including caffeine, paraxanthine, paracetamol, metformin, cyclamate, cephalexin, and MIAA were not affected by the DWTS dosing. Some non-degradable MPs, including cotinine, hydroxycotinine, tramadol, gabapentin, desvenlafaxine, hydrochlorothiazide, carbamazepine, fluconazole, sulfamethoxazole, acesulfame, saccharin and sucralose were also not impacted by the DWTS dosing. This study systematically assessed the additional benefits of discharging Fe-DWTS to the sewer network i.e., the removal of MPs from the liquid phase thereby reducing its load to the treatment plant. The results corroborate the discharge of Fe-rich DWTS in sewers as an effective and beneficial way of managing the waste by-product.

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