Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 20, pp 19628–19634 | Cite as

Identification of toxic substances in phenol-acetone wastewater on activated sludge and selective toxicity removal performance with ferrous pretreatment

Research Article


We investigated the effects of toxic wastewater generated during the production of phenol-acetone on activated sludge and tested pretreatment methods to selectively remove the toxicity. We found that the microbial activity in the activated sludge was inhibited by the wastewater, in which cumene hydroperoxide (CHP) with a medium effective concentration (EC50) of 225 mg L−1 was the main toxic substance. We tested one pretreatment method with ferrous iron to selectively remove the CHP. The CHP decomposition process, which mainly produced acetophenone, was very quick. The CHP was selectively transformed into low-toxicity organics, and a maximum of 92% was removed when 1.08 mmol L−1 of ferrous iron was added, for a reaction time of 10 min, a pH of 5, and a temperature of 25 °C, and the resulting wastewater only slightly inhibited the oxygen uptake rate of activated sludge. The acclimation of activated sludge was accelerated, and a COD removal rate of more than 85% was achieved within a week. Our results confirm that ferrous iron provides a cost-effective method to selectively remove toxins from wastewater.


Activated sludge Toxic substance Phenol-acetone wastewater Pretreatment Cumene hydroperoxide Ferrous iron 



This study was funded by the China Special Science and Technology Project for the Treatment and Control of Water Pollution (2012ZX07201-005) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51308521).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lulu Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Qianqian Lv
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Mingdong An
    • 5
  • Zhongyi Liu
    • 5
  • Yudong Song
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zhou Yuexi 
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jie Li
    • 1
  • Jixian Xu
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environmental and Municipal EngineeringLanzhou Jiaotong UniversityLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Research Center of Water Pollution Control TechnologyChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk AssessmentChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.College of Urban ConstructionHebei University of EngineeringHandanChina
  5. 5.Dyestuff Factory of Jilin Petrochemical CompanyJilinChina

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