According to previous research, it has been proved that wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) can retain more than 90% of the MPs contained in wastewater. However, a significant fraction of the MPs removed in WWTPs is retained in the sludge floc and this may lead to an environmental issue since biosolids can be used as fertilizers. The purpose of this research was to evaluate how the presence of polyethylene (PE) could interfere with the activated sludge performance. For this, a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) was continuously fed during 93 days with synthetic sewage and PE microbeads. It was observed that 98 ± 2% of the total amount of MPs that entered SBR was accumulated in the activated sludge. Despite the high accumulation of MPs in the sludge, the depuration performance of the reactor was not compromised. However, the presence of MPs decreased the richness (Chao1) and abundance-based coverage estimators (ACE) and diversity (Shannon) of the bacterial community on day 93. Based on the analysis of the diversity indices and the relative abundances of microbial taxa, it was concluded that MPs had selective effects on activated sludge microbial community. However, MPs did not affect the abundance of nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria in the sludge.
Clara Bretas-Alvim (1), Stefano Castelluccio (1), Eva Ferrer-Polonio (1), María Amparo Bes-Piá (1), José Antonio Mendoza-Roca (1), Julián Fernández-Navarro (2), José Luis Alonso (2), Inmaculada Amorós (2).
(1) Instituto de Seguridad Industrial, Radiofísica y Medioambiental. Universitat Politècnica de València.
(2) Instituto Ingeniería del Agua y Medio Ambiente. Universitat Politècnica de València.
C. BretasAlvim, S. Castelluccio, E. Ferrer-Polonio, M.A. Bes-Piá, J.A. Mendoza-Roca, J. Fernández-Navarro, J.L. Alonso, I.Amorós. 2020. Effect of polyethylene microplastics on activated sludge process – accumulation in the sludge and influence on the process and on biomass characteristics. Process Safety and Environmental Protection. In Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psep.2020.10.014