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J Environ Eng (New York). 2009 Nov 1;135(11):1192.

Synthetic Musk Fragrances in a Conventional Drinking Water Treatment Plant with Lime Softening.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52240.


Synthetic musk fragrances are common personal care product additives and wastewater contaminants that are routinely detected in the environment. This study examines the presence eight synthetic musk fragrances (AHTN, HHCB, ATII, ADBI, AHMI, musk xylene, and musk ketone) in source water and the removal of these compounds as they flow through a Midwestern conventional drinking water plant with lime softening. The compounds were measured in water, waste sludge, and air throughout the plant. HHCB and AHTN were detected in 100% of the samples and at the highest concentrations. A mass balance on HHCB and AHTN was performed under warm and cold weather conditions. The total removal efficiency for HHCB and AHTN, which averaged between 67% to 89%, is dominated by adsorption to water softener sludge and its consequent removal by sludge wasting and media filtration. Volatilization, chlorine disinfection, and the disposal of backwash water play a minor role in the removal of both compounds. As a result of inefficient overall removal, HHCB and AHTN are a constant presence at low levels in finished drinking water.

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