Down-the-drain household chemicals are mostly discharged intermittently (i.e. with water pulses, e.g. pharmaceuticals from toilet flushing) and well soluble micropollutants can, therefore, be subject to significantly high short-term fluctuations. It is not known how these fluctuations are attenuated by sorption to sewer sediments or biofilm. First, we investigated in this paper the effect of sorption for substances with high, medium and low affinity to particulate matter based on computational experiments. For substances with high Koc we found that the additional attenuation of a load pattern due to sorption is in the same order of magnitude as caused by dispersion in a typical main sewer. The mass flux between wastewater and the first biofilm layer was identified as the most sensitive parameter. Furthermore, the interplay of systematic, slow diurnal variations does not affect short-term fluctuations. Second, during rain events partial erosion of the biofilm can lead to increased micropollutant loads for substances with high Koc. This increase is in the same order of magnitude as diurnal variations of the loads in the liquid phase and the TSS.
Sorption and high dynamics of micropollutants in sewers
C. Ort, W. Gujer; Sorption and high dynamics of micropollutants in sewers. Water Sci Technol 1 June 2008; 57 (11): 1791–1797. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2008.309
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