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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Sep 1;44(17):6835-42. doi: 10.1021/es101509e.

Occurrence of xenobiotics in gray water and removal in three biological treatment systems.

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Sub-department Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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  • Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Jan 1;45(1):351.


Eighteen selected xenobiotics related to personal care and household chemicals (UV-filters, fragrances, preservatives, biocides, surfactants) were measured in gray water from 32 houses and in effluents of three different biological treatment systems (aerobic, anaerobic, and combined anaerobic+aerobic). All selected xenobiotics were detected in gray water samples in the low microg L(-1) range. Generally, lower concentrations were measured after biological treatment and removal efficiencies were higher under aerobic conditions than under anaerobic conditions. However, most of the xenobiotics were still detected in biologically treated gray water. The most persistent compounds were the fragrance tonalide and the UV-filters 2-phenyl-5-benzimidazolesulfonic acid and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. Estimated estrogenic potential of the effluent ranged between 0.07 and 0.72 ng L(-1) of 17beta-estradiol equivalents. Depending on the application of the effluent and its environmental risk, physical-chemical processes might be required to increase the removal efficiency of these compounds from gray water.

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