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Occurrence, removal, and fate of progestogens, androgens, estrogens, and phenols in six sewage treatment plants around Dianchi Lake in China

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The occurrence and behavior of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in sewage treatment plants (STPs), especially estrogens and phenols, have been closely concerned in previous studies. However, the systematical researches about progestogens and androgens were scarce in STPs adopting different treatment technologies. This work investigated the occurrence, removal, and fate of one progestogen, three androgens, four estrogens, and six phenols in six STPs around Dianchi Lake in China, where the influents, effluents of primary treatment, secondary treatment, and advanced treatment, as well as excess sludge samples, were analyzed. All of the above EDCs were detected out in influents of the six STPs. Bisphenol A, nonylphenol-mono-ethoxylate, and nonylphenol-diethoxylate were the dominant EDCs detected in those influent samples with the concentrations that varied from 637.6 to 1,684.0 ng/L, 633.8 to 1,540.0 ng/L, and 648.7 to 2,246.0 ng/L, respectively; E1 and dihydrotestosterone were the major steroids with the mean concentration of 126.8 and 277.4 ng/L. For effluents and sludges, phenols showed higher concentration (366.8–1,233.0 ng/L and 1,478.1–6,948.9 ng/g dry weight (dw)) and detection rate (100 %). The total removal rates were more than 80 % for most compounds in wastewater treatment processes, and high removal efficiency (86–100 %) was found for androgens and progestogens compared with estrogens (75–92 %) and phenols (62–85 %). The secondary treatment processes play significant roles on degrading EDCs, whereas the primary sedimentation has little effects. The treatment capacity of anoxic-anaerobic-anoxic membrane bioreactor and anaerobic/anoxic/oxic technologies was superior to the conventional oxidation ditch in the degradation of EDCs. The advanced treatment process, two units of filter (D-type or V-type), and ultraviolet disinfection were adopted and presented effective to remove these compounds. According to fate analysis, it was obvious that biological degradation was the main pathway on the removal of EDCs in STPs compared with adsorption. Risk quotients were calculated to assess ecological risks of those EDCs. Risk quotients of 54 and 61 % were more than 1 in effluents and sludges, respectively, showing potential hazard of effluents and sludges to the environment.

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This project was sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 21267012), the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (Grant No. 20125314110003), Application Fundamental Key Basic Research Foundation of Yunnan Province, China (Grant No. 2013FA011), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant No. 2013M531987), and Application Fundamental Research Foundation of Yunnan Province, China (Grant No. 2012FB124).

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Correspondence to Xuejun Pan.

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Responsible editor: Ester Heath

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Huang, B., Li, X., Sun, W. et al. Occurrence, removal, and fate of progestogens, androgens, estrogens, and phenols in six sewage treatment plants around Dianchi Lake in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 12898–12908 (2014).

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  • Endocrine disrupting chemical
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Occurrence
  • Removal
  • Risk assessment