Fates and Impacts of Nanomaterial Contaminants in Biological Wastewater Treatment System: a Review

  • Junkang Wu
  • Guangcan Zhu
  • Ran YuEmail author


Nowadays, engineered nanoparticles (NPs) have been widely employed in research, medical, and industrial fields due to their nanoscale-induced unique physicochemical properties. The increasing application of diverse NPs would inevitably cause their release into municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and pose potential toxicities to biological treatment systems. The fates and behaviors of NPs and their biological toxicity effects in the WWTPs were extensively reviewed. The potential nanotoxicity mechanisms were discussed at physiological and transcriptional levels and the factors to impact NP performances in WWTPs were explicated. Finally, the highly expected but yet solved difficulties such as toxicity standardization for various NPs in WWTPs, NP detection techniques, potential bio- or abiotic markers for nanotoxicity measurement, and nanotoxicity attenuation strategies are proposed. The critical insights of NP impacts on biological wastewater treatment systems provide fundamental and theoretical supports for NP risk assessments and emergency regulation in WWTPs in the future.


Nanoparticle Fate Impact Biological wastewater treatment Toxicity 



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51678134 and No.51208092), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (BK20171154), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Innovative Graduate Student Project of Jiangsu Province (KYLX16_0282), and Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of Southeast University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Energy and Environment, Wuxi Engineering Research Center of Taihu Lake Water EnvironmentSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Environmental Medicine Engineering, Ministry of EducationSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina

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