Triclosan (TCS) is a broad range antimicrobial agent used in many personal care products, which is commonly discharged to wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs). This study examined the impact of TCS on wastewater treatment performance using laboratory bench-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) coupled with anaerobic digesters. The SBRs were continuously fed synthetic wastewater amended with or without 0.68 μM TCS, with the aim of determining the effect of chronic TCS exposure as opposed to a pulse TCS addition as previously studied. Overall, the present study suggests inhibition of nitrogen removal during reactor startup. However, NH4+ removal fully rebounded after 63 days, suggesting acclimation of the associated microbial communities to TCS. An initial decrease in microbial community diversity was observed in the SBRs fed TCS as compared to the control SBRs, followed by an increase in community diversity, which coincided with the increase in NH4+ removal. Elevated levels of NO3 and NO2 were found in the reactor effluent after day 58, however, suggesting ammonia oxidizing bacteria rebounding more rapidly than nitrogen oxidizing bacteria. Similar effects on treatment efficiencies at actual WWTFs have not been widely observed, suggesting that continuous addition of TCS in their influent may have selected for TCS-resistant nitrogen oxidizing bacteria.

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