The performance of an aerated horizontal subsurface flow treatment wetland was investigated before, during and after a simulated aeration failure. Conventional wastewater parameters (e.g., carbonaceous biological oxygen demand, total nitrogen, and Escherichia coli
) as well as selected micropollutants (caffeine, ibuprofen, naproxen, benzotriazole, diclofenac, acesulfame, and carbamazepine) were investigated. Furthermore, the removal of biological effects was investigated using in vitro bioassays. The six bioassays selected covered environmentally relevant endpoints (indicative of activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor, AhR; binding to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, PPARγ; activation of estrogen receptor alpha, ERα; activation of glucocorticoid receptor, GR; oxidative stress response, AREc32; combined algae test, CAT). During the aeration interruption phase, the water quality deteriorated to a degree comparable to that of a conventional (non-aerated) horizontal subsurface flow wetland. After the end of the aeration interruption, the analytical and biological parameters investigated recovered at different time periods until their initial treatment performance. Treatment efficacy for conventional parameters was recovered within a few days, but no complete recovery of treatment efficacy could be observed for bioassays AhR, AREc32 and CAT in the 21 days following re-start of the aeration system. Furthermore, the removal efficacy along the flow path for most of the chemicals and bioassays recovered as it was observed in the baseline phase. Only for the activation of AhR and AREc32 there was a shift of the internal treatment profile from 12.5% to 25% (AhR) and 50% (AREc32) of the fractional length.
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