The present study compares conventional wastewater treatment technologies (coagulation–flocculation and activated sludge) and powdered activated carbon (PAC) treatment for the removal of acute ecotoxicity from wastewater generated by tank truck cleaning (TTC) processes. Ecotoxicity was assessed with a battery of four commercially available rapid biological toxicity testing systems, verified by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Chemical coagulation–flocculation of raw TTC wastewater had no impact on the inhibition of the bioluminescence by Vibrio fischeri (BioTox assay). Subsequent biological treatment with activated sludge without PAC resulted in BioTox inhibition-free effluent (<10% inhibition). In contrast, activated sludge treatment without PAC produced an effluent that significantly inhibited (>50%) (i) the bioluminescence by Photobacterium leiognathi (ToxScreen³ test kit), (ii) the photosynthesis by the green algae Chlorella vulgaris (LuminoTox SAPS test kit), and (iii) the particle ingestion by the crustacean Thamnocephalus platyurus (Rapidtoxkit test kit). The lowest inhibition was measured after activated sludge treatment with the highest PAC dose (400 mg/L), demonstrating the effectiveness of PAC treatment for ecotoxicity removal from TTC wastewater. In conclusion, the combination of bioassays applied in the present study represents a promising test battery for rapid ecotoxicty assessment in wastewater treatment.

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