The paper expresses an attempt to tackle the problem due to the presence of micropollutants in wastewater which may be able to disrupt the endocrine system of some organisms. These kinds of compounds are ubiquitously present in municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents. The aim of this paper is to compare the fate of the alkylphenols–APs (4-(tert-octyl)) phenol, t-nonylphenol and 4-p-nonylphenol and the hormones (estrone, 17β-estradiol and 17α-ethinylestradiol) in a submerged anaerobic membrane bioreactor (SAMBR) pilot plant and in a conventional activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (CTP). The obtained results are also compared with the results obtained in a previous study carried out in an aerobic MBR pilot plant. The results showed that the APs soluble concentrations in the SAMBR effluent were always significantly higher than the CTP ones. Moreover, the analyses of the suspended fraction revealed that the AP concentrations in the SAMBR reactor were usually higher than in the CTP reactor, indicating that under anaerobic conditions the APs were accumulated in the digested sludge. The aerobic conditions maintained both in the CTP system and in the aerobic MBR favoured the APs and hormones degradation, and gave rise to lower concentrations in the effluent and in the reactor of these systems. Furthermore, the results also indicated that the degradation of APs under aerobic conditions was enhanced working at high solid retention time (SRT) and hydraulic retention time (HRT) values.

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