Pharmaceutical active compounds in sewage sludge: Degradation improvement and conversion into an organic amendment by composting processes
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AuthorÁngeles de Paz, Gabriela; León-Morcillo, Rafael; Guzman, Sofia; Robledo Mahón, Tatiana; Pozo Llorente, Clementina; Calvo Sáinz, Concepción; Aranda Ballesteros, Elisabet
BioaugmentationCompostingPharmaceutical compoundsSewage sludgeToxicity
G. Angeles-de Paz et al. Pharmaceutical active compounds in sewage sludge: Degradation improvement and conversion into an organic amendment by composting processes. Waste Management 168 (2023) 167–178 [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2023.05.055]
SponsorshipGrupo RNM-270 UGR; Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and European Research Funds (FEDER) [grant numbers CTM2017-84332-R]; Junta de Andalucía FEDER/Junta de Andalucía-Consejería de Transformación´Económica, Industria, Conocimiento y Universidades [B-RNM-204-UGR20]; CONACyt fellowship [grant number 772485]; María Zambrano Program (Next Generation Funds, UE); Undergraduate Initiation to Research Scholarship from the University of Granada [grant number 669608935]
Around 143,000 chemicals find their fate in wastewater treatment plants in the European Union. Low efficiency on their removal at lab-based studies and even poorer performance at large scale experiments have been reported. Here, a coupled biological technology (bioaugmentation and composting) is proposed and proved for pharmaceutical active compounds degradation and toxicity reduction. The optimization was conducted through in situ inoculation of Penicillium oxalicum XD 3.1 and an enriched consortium (obtained from non-digested sewage sludge), into pilot scale piles of sewage sludge under real conditions. This bioaugmentation-composting system allowed a better performance of micropollutants degradation (21 % from the total pharmaceuticals detected at the beginning of the experiment) than a traditional composting process. Particularly, inoculation with P. oxalicum allowed the degradation of some recalcitrant compounds like carbamazepine, cotinine and methadone, and also produced better stabilization features in the mature compost (significant passivation of copper and zinc, higher macronutrients value, adequate physicochemical conditions for soil direct application and less toxic effect on germination) compared to the control and the enriched culture. These findings provide a feasible, alternative strategy to obtain a safer mature compost and a better removal of micropollutants performance at large scale.