Distribution of polychlorinated biphenyls in effluent from a large municipal wastewater treatment plant: Potential for bioremediation?

Ran Jing , Soliver Fusi , Alisha Chan , Staci Capozzi , Birthe V. Kjellerup


Received March 30, 2018,Revised , Accepted June 11, 2018, Available online June 21, 2018

Volume 31,2019,Pages 42-52

This study involved an evaluation of the potential for bioremediation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the effluent from a large municipal wastewater treatment plant. It was focused on the presence of PCBs in two types of effluents: the continuous effluent present during dry weather conditions and the intermittently present effluent that was present during wet weather due to incoming stormwater. The annual discharge of PCBs for both types of effluent was calculated based on a five-year dataset (2011–2015). In addition, the toxicity and bioremediation potential of the PCBs in the effluent were also assessed. It was found that the continuous effluent was responsible for the majority of the discharged PCB into the receiving river (1821 g for five years), while the intermittent effluent contributed 260 g over the five years. The average number of chlorine per biphenyl for the detected PCB congeners showed a 19% difference between the two types of effluent, which indicated a potential for organohalide respiration of PCBs during the continuous treatment. This was further supported by a high level of tri-, tetra- and penta-chlorinated congeners accounting for 75% of the anaerobically respired PCBs. Potential for aerobic degradation and thus biomineralization of PCBs was identified for both effluents. Furthermore, toxicity of 12 dioxin-like PCBs showed that normal operation of the wastewater reduced the toxicity throughout the wastewater treatment plant.

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