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Experimental assessment and validation of quantification methods for cellulose content in municipal wastewater and sludge

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Cellulose, mostly in the form of toilet paper, forms a major component of the particulates in raw municipal wastewater, which could lead to significant consequences due to the potential accumulation of cellulosic fibers and slow biodegradability. Despite the sparse reports on cellulose content and degradation in wastewater and sludge, an accurate and validated method for its quantification in such matrices does not exist. In this paper, four different methods were compared including dilute acid hydrolysis, concentrated acid hydrolysis, enzymatic hydrolysis, and the Schweitzer reagent method. The Schweitzer reagent method, applied to municipal wastewater and sludge, was found to be a very robust and reliable quantification method in light of its reproducibility, accuracy, and ideal (100%) recovery. The determination of cellulose content is critical to understand its fate in wastewater treatment plants as well as improve sludge management and enhance resource recovery.

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This research was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada—Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) (grant number CRDPJ-488704-15). Dr. Peter A. Vanrolleghem holds the Canada Research Chair on Water Quality Modeling.

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Correspondence to Medhavi Gupta or George Nakhla.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Gupta, M., Ho, D., Santoro, D. et al. Experimental assessment and validation of quantification methods for cellulose content in municipal wastewater and sludge. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 16743–16753 (2018).

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