Biological treatment has been identified as a critical step in the removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater during the treatment process. Aerobic granulation systems (AGSs) represent an upcoming biological treatment technology for consolidated removal of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater with a smaller footprint. However, the capacity of AGSs to remove organic micropollutants has so far been poorly characterized.
The overarching goal of this study is to determine the effects of the primary carbon substrate on the biotransformation of six ubiquitous micropollutants in AGSs. Acetate, 2-propanol and glycerol were used as the primary carbon source for three AGSs. The different carbon sources did not affect the removal of conventional contaminants (C, N and P) but significantly influenced the removal of individual organic micropollutants and taxonomic richness within the granule. Overall, simultaneous C, N and P were removed at 75 ± 10% and the bulk of micropollutants were (ug l-1 VSS-1): 21 ± 35, 36 ± 20 and 60 ± 43 for with acetate, propanol and glycerol grown granules, respectively. Richness (OTUs): 4602, 3017 and 2595 for acetate, propanol and glycerol grown granules, respectively
This study demonstrates that AGSs developed for wastewater treatment can effectively remove micropollutants without compromising the C, N and P removal performance.