The next challenge of wastewater treatment is to reliably remove micropollutants at the microgram per litre range. During the present work more than 100 substances were analysed through on-site mass balances over 19 municipal wastewater treatment lines. The most relevant substances according to their occurrence in raw wastewater, in treated wastewater and in sludge were identified, and their fate in wastewater treatment processes was assessed. About half of priority substances of WFD were found at concentrations higher than 0.1 μg/L in wastewater. For 26 substances, potential non-compliance with Environmental Quality Standard of Water Framework Directive has been identified in treated wastewater, depending on river flow. Main concerns are for Cd, DEHP, diuron, alkylphenols, and chloroform. Emerging substances of particular concern are by-products, organic chemicals (e.g. triclosan, benzothiazole) and pharmaceuticals (e.g. ketoprofen, diclofenac, sulfamethoxazole, carbamazepine). About 80% of the load of micropollutants was removed by conventional activated sludge plants, but about two-thirds of removed substances were mainly transferred to sludge.

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