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Bioresour Technol. 2011 Aug;102(16):7415-21. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2011.05.032. Epub 2011 May 19.

Active heterotrophic biomass and sludge retention time (SRT) as determining factors for biodegradation kinetics of pharmaceuticals in activated sludge.

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Resource Center for Environmental Technologies (CRTE) - CRP Henri Tudor, 66, rue de Luxembourg, 4221 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.


The present study investigates the biodegradation of pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) by active biomass in activated sludge. Active heterotrophs (X(bh)) which are known to govern COD removal are suggested as a determining factor for biological PhAC removal as well. Biodegradation kinetics of five polar PhACs were determined in activated sludge of two wastewater treatment plants which differed in size, layout and sludge retention time (SRT). Results showed that active fractions of the total suspended solids (TSS) differed significantly between the two sludges, indicating that TSS does not reveal information about heterotrophic activity. Furthermore, PhAC removal was significantly faster in the presence of high numbers of heterotrophs and a low SRT. Pseudo first-order kinetics were modified to include X(bh) and used to describe decreasing PhAC elimination with increasing SRT.

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