Effects of selected pharmaceutically active compounds on treatment performance in sequencing batch reactors mimicking wastewater treatment plants operations.
The impact of four pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) introduced both individually and in mixtures was ascertained on the performance of laboratory-scale wastewater treatment sequencing batch reactors (SBRs). When introduced individually at concentrations of 0.1, 1 and 10 μM, no significant differences were observed with respect to chemical oxygen demand (COD) and ammonia removal. Microbial community analyses reveal that although similarity index values generally decreased over time with an increase in PhAC concentrations as compared to the controls, no major microbial community shifts were observed for total bacteria and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) communities. However, when some PhACs were introduced in mixtures, they were found to both inhibit nitrification and alter AOB community structure. Ammonia removal decreased by up to 45% in the presence of 0.25 μM gemfibrozil and 0.75 μM naproxen. PhAC mixtures did not however affect COD removal performance suggesting that heterotrophic bacteria are more robust to PhACs than AOB. These results highlight that the joint action of PhACs in mixtures may have significantly different effects on nitrification than the individual PhACs. This phenomenon should be further investigated with a wider range of PhACs so that toxicity effects can more accurately be predicted.
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