Emerging Contaminants: Their Fate During Wastewater Treatment
Increasing population is leading to more chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, industrial chemicals and surfactants, commonly categorised as emerging chemicals (ECs), being released to the sewerage system. Pharmaceuticals and pesticides are frequently detected globally in surface water and can have negative impacts on ecosystems. ECs are removed to varying extents in wastewater treatment processes, and there is evidence that wastewater treatment plants provide an important pathway for their introduction to the aquatic environment. Therefore a better understanding of the fate and removal of ECs in wastewater treatment plants would facilitate their management.
The mechanisms of EC removal in wastewater treatment processes, and in stabilisation lagoons in particular, will be discussed. Depending on their physicochemical and structural properties, ECs are removed to varying degrees by photolysis, biodegradation within the water column and sediment, and adsorption to sediment, in stabilisation lagoons. As ECs are generally present at trace levels, ranging from ng/L to µg/L, their detection and quantification is a challenge. Hence modelling is a useful approach to predicting their fate and removal during wastewater treatment, thus enabling the optimisation of treatment processes and assessment of the risk associated with the treated water. The development of a fugacity-based mass balance (Quantitative Water Air Sediment Interaction, QWASI) model to investigate the fate and transport of representative ECs in a Victorian lagoon system will be described.
Felicity Roddick was Professor of Environmental Technology at RMIT University from 2000 until 2017 when she was appointed Emeritus Professor. She held senior administrative roles at College and School level, including Associate Dean (R&I) and DPVC (R&I) for the College of Science Engineering and Health, and foundation Head of the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering. She established the Water: Effective Technologies and Tools (WETT) Research Centre in 2011 and was its Director for five years.
Felicity was a researcher with the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment from its inception in 1995, and now its successor organization Water Research Australia. She was chairman of the Education Committees for the CRC and Water Research Australia over 1995-2016.
She has 28 years experience in the treatment of water and wastewater by various means including adsorption, membrane, advanced oxidation and biological processes. Particular interests are the characterisation and removal of organic matter from potable and wastewater, and the treatment of wastewater for recycling and resource recovery.