Micropollutants removal and health risk reduction in a water reclamation and ecological reuse system

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Journal Article
Water Research, 2018, 138 pp. 272 - 281
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd As reclaimed water use is increasing, its safety attracts growing attention, particularly with respect to the health risks associated with the wide range of micropollutants found in the reclaimed water. In this study, sophisticated analysis was conducted for water samples from a water reclamation and ecological reuse system where domestic wastewater was treated using an anaerobic-anoxic-oxic unit followed by a membrane bioreactor (A2O-MBR), and the reclaimed water was used for replenishing a landscape lake. A total of 58 organic micropollutants were detected in the system, consisting of 13 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 16 phenols, 3 pesticides, and 26 pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). After treatment by the A2O-MBR process, effective removal of pesticides and phenols was achieved, while when the reclaimed water entered the landscape lake, PPCPs were further removed. From the physicochemical properties of micropollutants, it could be inferred that phenols and dichlorphos (the only pesticide with considerable concentration in the influent) would have been mainly removed by biodegradation and/or volatilization in the biological treatment process. Additionally, it is probable that sludge adsorption also contributed to the removal of dichlorphos. For the predominant PPCP removal in the landscape lake, various actions, such as adsorption, biodegradation, photolysis, and ecologically mediated processes (via aquatic plants and animals), would have played significant roles. However, according to their logKoc, logKowand logD (pH = 8) values, it could be concluded that adsorption by suspended solids might be an important action. Although carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks associated with all the detected micropollutants were at negligible levels, the hazard quotients (HQs) of PPCPs accounted for 92.03%–97.23% of the HQTotal. With the significant removal of PPCPs through the ecological processes in the landscape lake, the safety of reclaimed water use could be improved. Therefore, the introduction of ecological unit into the water reclamation and reuse system could be an effective measure for health risk reduction posed by micropollutants.
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