Occurrence and Fate of Micropollutants in Private Wastewater Treatment Facility (WTF) and Their Impact on Receiving Water

  • Young-Min Kang
  • Moon-Kyung Kim
  • Taeyeon Kim
  • Tae-Kyoung Kim
  • Kyung-Duk ZohEmail author


This study investigated the occurrence and removals of micropollutants in the sewage treatment tank (STT) which is a typical private wastewater treatment facility used in the rural communities in Korea, and their impact on receiving water. STTs were selected in eight provinces to examine the regional difference in the composition of micropollutant occurrence. We measured ten selected micropollutants in influents and effluents of STTs, as well as upstream and downstream of its receiving surface water. The dominant micropollutants in the influent of the STTs were caffeine (13,346 ng/L), acetaminophen (11,331 ng/L), ibuprofen (1440 ng/L), and naproxen (1313 ng/L), in agreement with the amounts produced annually in Korea. In the effluent, caffeine (1912 ng/L), acetaminophen (1586 ng/L), naproxen (475 ng/L), and ibuprofen (389 ng/L) were detected in relatively high concentrations. The composition of micropollutants in STT influents showed little regional variation by provinces, suggesting that the consumption pattern of these micropollutants did not show regional variation. The removal efficiencies of the selected micropollutants at the STTs ranged from 12% (carbamazepine) to 88% (acetaminophen), lower than typical removal by sewage treatment plants (STPs). This result is probably due to the automatic operation systems and simple treatment processes in STTs compared with STPs. The concentrations of selected micropollutants upstream of the receiving water were generally lower compared with those observed downstream, indicating that effluent from STTs was the main source. The per capita discharge loads of STTs and annual emissions rates (kg/year) from private wastewater treatment facilities were estimated for the selected micropollutants.


  • The removal of micropollutants in sewage treatment tanks (STTs) was examined.

  • The composition of micropollutants in STT influents showed little regional variation.

  • STT effluent was the major source of micropollutants on the receiving river.

  • The per capita discharge load of target micropollutants in STTs was calculated.

  • National emission load of micropollutants from private STTs was calculated.


Pharmaceuticals Endocrine disrupting compounds Micropollutant Sewage treatment tank Wastewater treatment facilities Per capita discharge 



This study was supported by the Korea Environment Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI) through the project for developing innovative drinking water and wastewater technologies funded by Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) (NO. 2019002710001).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2019_1211_MOESM1_ESM.docx (228 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public HealthSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Institute of Health and EnvironmentSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea

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