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Systematic study of the contamination of wastewater treatment plant effluents by organic priority compounds in Almeria province (SE Spain)

The Science of The Total Environment
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.01.027
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Pesticides
  • Phenolic Compounds
  • Survey
  • Agricultural Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract The occurrence of priority organic pollutants in wastewater (WW) effluents was evaluated in a semi-arid area, characterized by a high agricultural and tourism activity, as Almeria province (Southeastern Spain). Twelve wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were sampled in three campaigns during 2011, obtaining a total of 33 WW samples, monitoring 226 compounds, including pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), phenolic compounds and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Certain banned organochlorine pesticides such as aldrin, pentachlorobenzene, o,p′-DDD and endosulfan lactone were found, and the most frequently detected pesticides were herbicides (diuron, triazines). PAHs and VOCs were also detected, noting that some of these pollutants were ubiquitous. Regarding phenolic compounds, 4-tertoctylphenol was found in all the WW samples at high concentration levels (up to 89.7μg/L). Furthermore, it was observed that WW effluent samples were less contaminated in the second and third sampling periods, which corresponded to dry season. This evaluation revealed that despite the WW was treated in the WWTP, organic contaminants are still being detected in WW effluents and therefore they are released into the environment. Finally the risk of environmental threat due to the presence of some compounds in WWTP effluents, especially concerning 4-tertoctylphenol must be indicated.

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