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Fate of nonylphenol compounds in aerobic batch reactors

Ömeroğlu, Seçil
Today, numerous studies indicate the presence of synthetic organics such as nonylphenol (NP) compounds in wastewater. NP compounds are a group of chemicals including nonylphenol, nonylphenol polyethoxylates (NPnEO) and nonylphenoxy polyethoxy acetic acids (NPnEC). Since NP compounds have significant industrial, commercial and domestic use, they enter environmental systems and reach human beings from various pathways. Their presence is of concern because they are toxic, carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting due to their ability to mimic oestrogen hormone. The information available on the degradation of NPnEOs, is such that degradation starts with the reduction of ethylene oxide units, resulting in the formation of nonylphenol, nonylphenol mono- or diethoxylate (NP1EO and NP2EO) and nonylphenoxy acetic acid (NP1EC). Although their fate during wastewater treatment was investigated in the past, not many research investigating their fate in sludge treatment can be found. Therefore, the objective of this study is first to come up with reliable extraction and measurement methods for NP compounds and then to investigate the fate of NP2EO in aerobic digesters. After the development of techniques for the extraction and measurement of NP compounds, aerobic reactors spiked with NP2EO were operated. The samples were analyzed for solids content, COD, pH and NP compounds. The results showed that NP2EO degrades rapidly under aerobic conditions. As time proceeded, NP1EC formation was observed with the degradation of NP2EO, and NP1EC became the dominant specie. The solids concentration measurements showed that concentration of NP compounds did not affect the efficiency of aerobic digesters.