Removal of organic wastewater contaminants in septic systems using advanced treatment technologies

Journal of Environmental Quality
By: , and 



The detection of pharmaceuticals and other organic wastewater contaminants (OWCs) in ground water and surface-water bodies has raised concerns about the possible ecological impacts of these compounds on nontarget organisms. On-site wastewater treatment systems represent a potentially significant route of entry for organic contaminants to the environment. In this study, effluent samples were collected and analyzed from conventional septic systems and from systems using advanced treatment technologies. Six of 13 target compounds were detected in effluent from at least one septic system. Caffeine, paraxanthine, and acetaminophen were the most frequently detected compounds, and estrogenic activity was detected in 14 of 15 systems. The OWC concentrations were significantly lower in effluent after sand filtration (p < 0.01) or aerobic treatment (p < 0.05) as compared with effluent that had not undergone advanced treatment. In general, concentrations in conventional systems were comparable to those measured in previous studies of municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) influent, and concentrations in systems after advanced treatment were comparable to previously measured concentrations in WWTP effluent. These data indicate that septic systems using advanced treatment can reduce OWCs in treated effluent to similar concentrations as municipal WWTPs. Copyright ?? 2009 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. All rights reserved.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Removal of organic wastewater contaminants in septic systems using advanced treatment technologies
Series title Journal of Environmental Quality
DOI 10.2134/jeq2007.0365
Volume 38
Issue 1
Year Published 2009
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Environmental Quality
First page 149
Last page 156
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