Assessing the effects of silver nanoparticles on biological nutrient removal in bench-scale activated sludge sequencing batch reactors.
Consumer products such as clothing and medical products are increasingly integrating silver and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) into base materials to serve as an antimicrobial agent. Thus, it is critical to assess the effects of AgNPs on wastewater microorganisms essential to biological nutrient removal. In the present study, pulse and continuous additions of 0.2 and 2 ppm gum arabic and citrate coated AgNPs as well as Ag as AgNO3 were fed into sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) inoculated with nitrifying sludge. Treatment efficiency (chemical oxygen demand (COD) and ammonia removal), Ag dissolution measurements, and 16S rRNA bacterial community analyses (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism, T-RFLP) were performed to evaluate the response of the SBRs to Ag addition. Results suggest that the AgNPs may have been precipitating in the SBRs. While COD and ammonia removal decreased by as much as 30% or greater directly after spikes, SBRs were able to recover within 24 h (3 hydraulic retention times (HRTs)) and resume removal near 95%. T-RFLP results indicate Ag spiked SBRs were similar in a 16s rRNA bacterial community. The results shown in this study indicate that wastewater treatment could be impacted by Ag and AgNPs in the short term but the amount of treatment disruption will depend on the magnitude of influent Ag.
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