Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 27756–27767 | Cite as

A study through batch tests on the analytical determination and the fate and removal of methamphetamine in the biological treatment of domestic wastewater

  • Maria Rosaria Boni
  • Agostina Chiavola
  • Camilla Di MarcantonioEmail author
  • Silvia Sbaffoni
  • Stefano Biagioli
  • Giancarlo Cecchini
  • Alessandro Frugis
New Challenges in the Application of Advanced Oxidation Processes


Methamphetamine (MET) is one of the most used illicit drugs in Europe and is recognized as one of the Emerging Organic Micropollutants. It is discharged into the sewerage system from different sources and then enters the wastewater treatment plants. The present study aimed at providing a better knowledge of the fate of MET through the wastewater treatment plants. The study addressed two different issues: (1) optimization of the analytical methods for MET determination in both liquid and sludge phases, focusing on the effects of potentially interfering substances and (2) investigation on the behaviour of MET in the biological treatment process, with specific concern for the biomass activity at different drug concentrations. Results of the study on issue 1 highlighted that the applied analytical method for MET determination (UPLC–MS/MS) is affected by the main components of wastewater for about 9–23%, which is comparable with the uncertainties of the method (about ± 28%). The method showed also to be repeatable and reliable (recovery > 75%; repeatability < 10–15%; bias uncertainty < 30%), and relatively easy-to-use. Therefore, it can be considered suitable for measurements on routine base in the WWTPs. Batch tests conducted to address issue 2 showed total removal of 84, 90, and 96% at 50, 100, and 200 ng/L initial MET concentration, respectively, for a contact time of 6 h. The removal process was mainly ascribed to the biological activity of both heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria. The pseudo first-order kinetic model provided the best fitting of the experimental data of the overall biological processes at all the tested concentrations. Furthermore, the respirometric tests showed that MET does not induce any inhibition. Adsorption of MET on activated sludge was always very low.


Biodegradation Emerging contaminants Domestic wastewater Illicit drugs Methamphetamine Respirometric test 

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1321_MOESM1_ESM.docx (56 kb)
ESM 1 Fig. 7 Batch tests at blank condition (MET concentration equal to 0 ng/L). Time-profiles of (a) COD removal efficiency and (b) ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite concentrations (error bars indicate the standard deviation) (DOCX 55 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil Building and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.ENEA-Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Research Centre CasacciaTechnical Unit for Environmental TechnologiesRomeItaly
  3. 3.ACEA ELABORI SpARomeItaly

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