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micropollutant, endocrine disruption, chemical contaminants, pharmaceutical, water treatment, wastewater, estrogen, electrocoagulation

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Conventional wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) processes are primarily designed to reduce the amount of organic matter, pathogens, and nutrients from the incoming influent. However, these processes are not as effective in reducing the concentrations of micropollutants, including endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which notoriously evade traditional wastewater treatment technologies and are found even in tertiary-treated effluent. For WWTPs practicing deep-well injection or surface-water discharge, EDCs in the treated effluent are discharged into groundwater or the aquatic environment where humans and wildlife may potentially suffer the effects of chemical exposure. In the current laboratory-scale study, we tested a bench-top electrocoagulation (EC) unit utilizing aluminum blades for the removal of six estrogenic EDCs [estrone (E1), 17β-estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), bisphenol-A (BPA), and nonylphenol (NP)]. Samples of municipal wastewater influent and tertiary-treated effluent were spiked with the six EDCs in order to test the removal efficiency of the EC unit. The mean concentration of each EDC component was statistically lower after EC treatment (removal range = 42%–98%). To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate aluminum electrocoagulation for removal of these specific EDCs, including nonylphenol (without the ethoxylate chain), as well as natural and synthetic estrogens.

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Water, v. 8, issue 4, art. 128

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