Biochar and activated carbon act as promising amendments for promoting the microbial debromination of tetrabromobisphenol A.
The increasing occurrence of tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) in the environment is raising questions about its potential environmental health impacts as it has been shown to cause various deleterious effects in humans. The fact that the highest concentrations of TBBPA have been reported in wastewater sludge is concerning as effluent discharge and biosolids land application are likely a route by which TBBPA can be further disbursed to the environment. Our objectives in this study were to evaluate the effect of biochar (BC) and activated carbon (AC) in promoting the biodegradation of TBBPA, and characterize the response of anaerobic sludge microbial communities following amendments. Both carbonaceous amendments were found to promote the reductive debromination of TBBPA. Nearly complete transformation of TBBPA to BPA was observed in the amended reactors ∼20 days earlier than in the control reactors. In particular, the transformation of diBBPA to monoBBPA, which appears to be the rate-limiting step, was accelerated in the presence of either amendment. Overall, microbial taxa responding to the amendments, i.e., 'sensitive responders', represented a small proportion of the community (i.e., 7.2%), and responded positively. However, although both amendments had a similar effect on TBBPA degradation, the taxonomic profile of the sensitive responders differed greatly from one amendment to the other. BC had a taxonomically broader and slightly more pronounced effect than AC. This work suggests that BC and AC show great potential to promote the biodegradation of TBBPA in anaerobic sludge, and their integration into wastewater treatment processes may be helpful for removing TBBPA and possibly other emerging hydrophobic contaminants.
Lefèvre, E; Bossa, N; Gardner, CM; Gehrke, GE; Cooper, EM; Stapleton, HM; Hsu-Kim, H; Gunsch, CK
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