Investigating the distribution of polybrominated diphenyl ethers through an Australian wastewater treatment plant

Bradley O Clarke, Nichola A Porter, Robert K Symons, Philip J Marriott, Gavin J Stevenson, Judy R Blackbeard

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The aim of this study was to quantify the amount of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) released into the environment (biosolids, effluent) from a conventional Australian activated sludge treatment wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The concentration of PBDE congeners was measured at various treatment stages and included four aqueous samples (raw, primary, secondary and tertiary effluents) and three sludges (primary, secondary and lime stabilized biosolids), collected at three sampling events over the course of the experiment (29 days). Semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMDs) were also installed for the duration of the experiment, the first time that SPMDs have been used to measure PBDEs in a WWTP. Over 99 of the PBDEs entering the WWTP were removed through the treatment processes, principally by sedimentation. The main congeners detected were BDE 47, 99 and 209, which are characteristic of the two major commercial formulations viz penta-BDE and deca-BDE. All the PBDE congeners measured were highly correlated with each other, suggesting a similar origin. In this case, the PBDEs are thought to be from domestic sources since domestic wastewater is the main contribution to the in-flow (similar to 95 ). The mean concentration of Sigma PBDEs in chemically stabilized sewage sludge (biosolids) was 300 mu g kg(-1) dry weight. It is calculated that 2.3 +/- 0.3 kg of PBDEs are disposed of each year with biosolids generated from the WWTP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1604 - 1611
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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