Phthalate removal throughout wastewater treatment plant: Case study of Marne Aval station (France)

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsDargnat, C, Teil, M-J, Chevreuil, M, Blanchard, M
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Pagination1235 - 1244
Date Published02/2009
ISBN Number0048-9697
Mots-clésPhthalates, Sewage effluent, Sludge, wastewater treatment plant

The fate of six phthalates: dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) was investigated throughout wastewater treatment processes in the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) of Marne Aval (France). That plant treats wastewater from a highly populated area and was used as a pilot station for development of nitrification processes.
In wastewater, at each step of treatment, DEHP was always the major compound (9 to 44 µg L- 1), followed by DEP (1.6 to 25 µg L- 1). Other phthalates averaged 1 µg L- 1 and DnOP remained close to the detection limit in nearly all cases.
In sludge, the prevailing compound was also DEHP (72 µg g- 1) which is consistent with its tendency to get sorbed upon suspended matter (SM). DnOP came in third, in relation with its resistance to biodegradation.
For the studied period, the removal efficiency of DEHP from wastewater was about 78%. That removal seemed to proceed rather from particle settling than from biodegradation. A highly significant correlation (p < 0.001) was found between DEHP and SM concentrations throughout treatment processes. The other compounds: DMP, DEP, DnBP and BBP, displayed satisfactory efficiencies ranging from 68 to over 96% for the lighter ones obviously more easily degraded.
Under rainy periods, the plant discharge impact upon Marne River quality in terms of phthalate fluxes, appeared to be minor as compared to the amount brought by the storm overflows in the same area. Downstream of the WWTP discharge, DEHP concentration remained under the European norm for surface water (NQE: 1.3 µg L- 1).
Our study documents the behaviour of phthalate esters throughout a WWTP which treatment device is used by 55% of the WWTP in the river Seine basin.