Pharmaceuticals effect and removal, at environmentally relevant concentrations, from sewage sludge during anaerobic digestion

Asma Alenzi, Colin Hunter, Janice Spencer, Joanne Roberts, John Craft, Ole Pahl, Ania Escudero Olabuenaga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper investigates the performance of AD in the presence of high-risk pharmaceuticals found in sewage sludge and its removal capacity. The digestion process of synthetic sewage sludge was observed in two 7L glass reactors (D1 and D2) at 38ºC (OLR 1.3 gVS L-1 d-1 and HRT 43 d). Environmentally relevant pharmaceuticals (clarithromycin, clotrimazole, erythromycin, fluoxetine, ibuprofen, sertraline, simvastatin and tamoxifen) were added in D2 at predicted environmental (sludge) conditions. The results demonstrated that long-term presence of pharmaceuticals can affect AD and induce instability resulting in an accumulation of VFAs. This study showed a concurrent effect on AD microbial composition, increasing the percentage of Firmicutes (>70%) and decreasing the percentages of Bacteroidetes and Euryarchaeota (<5%), which seems to be the cause of VFA accumulation and resultant the decrease in the biogas production. However, it seems that anaerobic microorganisms offer enhanced the removal of the antibiotics clarithromycin and erythromycin over aerobic techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124102
JournalBioresource Technology
Early online date16 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sep 2020

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