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Sewage lagoons remove most -- but not all -- pharmaceuticals
Date:2/14/2013

CHAMPAIGN, lll. 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which established regulations for the discharge of pollutants to waterways and supported the building of sewage treatment plants. Despite these advances, sewage remains a major source of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and naturally occurring hormones found in the environment.

Many rural communities in the United States use aerated lagoon systems to treat their wastewater. The wastewater is pumped into at least one manmade aerated lagoon, in which oxygen-loving and anaerobic microorganisms remove many of the contaminants. The water is then pumped into a series of other lagoons. Finally, the resulting water, known as the effluent, is discharged directly into a receiving stream.

The drugs, chemicals and hormone contaminants such as ibuprofen, caffeine and ethinyl estradiol from urban sewage treatment plants have been studied and monitored widely, but their occurrence in rural lagoon treatment systems is often overlooked.

In a new study led by Wei Zheng, a University of Illinois professor in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences and a senior research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, researchers determined the effectiveness of rural lagoon systems at removing these compounds from wastewater. The research was conducted jointly with the Illinois State Water Survey. The study appears in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Scientists collected water samples in September and November from a rural wastewater treatment plant located in a small town in Illinois. The facility treats sewage wastewater in two aerated lagoons, using a sand tank for filtration. The effluent streams into a creek that flows into the Mackinaw River. The researchers c
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Contact: Chelsey Coombs
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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