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Chemosphere. 2008 Dec;73(11):1741-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.09.020. Epub 2008 Oct 31.

Reduction of pharmaceutically active compounds by a lagoon wetland wastewater treatment system in Southeast Louisiana.

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Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Wetland and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


A number of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) have been detected in the aquatic environment as a result of discharges of municipal wastewater. In the state of Louisiana, USA, many municipalities treat wastewater using natural systems, such as lagoons and wetlands, rather than conventional wastewater treatment technologies. Nearly all research to date has focused on the fate of PhACs in conventional treatment plants, not constructed and natural wetlands. In the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for Mandeville, Louisiana, USA, wastewater flows of 7600 m(3)d(-1) are treated in a series of aeration lagoons (basins), followed by a constructed wetland and UV disinfection, before being discharged into a natural forested wetland (i.e. Bayou Chinchuba) and eventually, Lake Pontchartrain. Thirteen out of the 15PhACs investigated were detected in the wastewater inflow to the treatment plant. Only 9 of the 13 compounds were above the detection limits at the treatment plant effluent. The concentrations of most compounds were reduced by greater than 90% within the plant, while carbamazepine and sotalol were only reduced by 51% and 82%, respectively. The percent reductions observed in the Mandeville system were greater than reduction rates reported for conventional WWTPs; perhaps due to the longer treatment time ( approximately 30 days). Most target PhACs were not completely removed before discharge into Lake Pontchartrain, although their collective annual loading was reduced to less than 1kg and down to ppb with significant potential for dilution in the large lake.

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