HA6 Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Wastewater Treatment Effluents
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() Reduction of estrogenic activity by membrane-based and conventional waste water treatment.

Coors, A.1, Jones, P.2, Giesy, J.2, Ratte, H.1, 1 Aachen University, Department of Biology 5 (Ecology, Ecotoxicology and Ecochemistry), Aachen, Germany2 Michigan State University, Institute for Environmental Toxicology and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, East Lansing, Michigan, US

ABSTRACT- The efficiency of removal of estrogenically active substances from waste water depends on the treatment method chosen. In this study, we investigated several waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) employing different kinds of treatment. The plants used either membrane bioreactors or conventional aerobic biological treatment followed by advanced purification methods such as sand filtration and a second nitrification step. Samples of raw and treated waste water were concentrated by solid phase extraction and tested for estrogenic activity in a bioassay based on reporter gene induction in human breast cancer cells. Despite occasional problems with toxicity, an estradiol equivalent concentration (EEQ) could be calculated for most samples. Effluents from WWTPs treating mainly municipal waste water ranged from below the EEQ quantification limit of 0.8 ng/l EEQ up to 1.8 ng/l. Although in some cases the effluents contained significant estrogenic activity, these results show in comparison to data of other studies a very good elimination efficiency by biological treatment combined with advanced methods. Full-scale membrane bioreactors treating three different kinds of waste water (pure municipal, pure industrial waste water and landfill leachate) were also investigated. Results demonstrated that this technology achieves an efficient elimination of estrogenic activity. Especially in the case of the industrial waste water, the very high initial load was reduced by a factor of 1000. But the effluents of all three membrane bioreactors contained, at least on some sampling days, significant estrogenic activity, even in the case of the municipal waste water with initially relatively little estrogenic activity. Thus, like conventional treatment, membrane-based treatment methods did not always achieve reduction to a non-significant level of estrogenic activity and can, therefore, not guarantee consistent removal of estrogenic substances.

Key words: endocrine disruption, waste water treatment, estrogenic activity, estradiol equivalents

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