Natural fluorescence emission – an indirect measurement of applied ozone dosages to remove pharmaceuticals in biologically treated wastewater
This study investigated the feasibility of UV-absorbance and fluorescence as monitoring tools for ozone dosages applied to effluents from wastewater treatment plans (WWTPs). Secondary treated effluents from five Swedish WWTPs underwent ozonation (at dosages ranging 0.5–12.0 mg O3/L) in bench-scale experiments. Correlations between ozone dosages and UV-absorbance at 254 and 272 nm were extrapolated with the first one being preferential for the wastewaters used because of its higher signal. UV-absorbance could detect differences in the applied ozone dosage as low as 1 mg/L, making it suitable to monitor effluent ozone treatment processes. Next, fluorescence was investigated at wavelength transitions that have being associated with humic-like fluorescents (Ex249Em450 and Ex335Em450) and protein-like fluorescents (Ex275Em340 and Ex231Em360 and Ex231Em315 and Ex275Em310). The Ex249Em450 transition was found to have the highest signal in all effluents and the best linear regression fitting with the ozone dosages over a wide range. However, low ozone dosages (0.5–3.0 mg O3/L), Ex335Em450 wavelength transition showed a more constant slope among the different domestic wastewater samples with slightly better R2 values than the Ex249Em450 transition. Fluorescence removal via ozonation correlated with the pharmaceutical removal; however, the wellness of fitting was directly dependent on the pharmaceuticals’ reactivity with ozone. Pharmaceuticals with moderate reactivity towards ozone appeared to be linearly correlated with the Ex249Em450 transition, while very reactive or recalcitrant pharmaceuticals had an exponential or a parabolic dependency. This means that fluorescence can potentially be used as a qualitative tool for pharmaceutical removal.
Abbreviations: APIs, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients; DOM, Dissolved organic matter; WWTPs, wastewater treatment plans; NOM, Natural organic matter; UV, Ultra-Violet light; DOC, Dissolved organic carbon.