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Assessment of Microplastics in a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant with Tertiary Treatment: Removal Efficiencies and Loading per Day into the Environment

Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII 44, E-30203 Cartagena, Spain
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Academic Editor: Andreas N. Angelakis
Water 2021, 13(10), 1339; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101339
Received: 14 April 2021 / Revised: 3 May 2021 / Accepted: 7 May 2021 / Published: 11 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Wastewater Treatment and Reuse)
This study investigates the removal of microplastics from wastewater in an urban wastewater treatment plant located in Southeast Spain, including an oxidation ditch, rapid sand filtration, and ultraviolet disinfection. A total of 146.73 L of wastewater samples from influent and effluent were processed, following a density separation methodology, visual classification under a stereomicroscope, and FTIR analysis for polymer identification. Microplastics proved to be 72.41% of total microparticles collected, with a global removal rate of 64.26% after the tertiary treatment and within the average retention for European WWTPs. Three different shapes were identified: i.e., microfiber (79.65%), film (11.26%), and fragment (9.09%), without the identification of microbeads despite the proximity to a plastic compounding factory. Fibers were less efficiently removed (56.16%) than particulate microplastics (90.03%), suggesting that tertiary treatments clearly discriminate between forms, and reporting a daily emission of 1.6 × 107 microplastics to the environment. Year variability in microplastic burden was cushioned at the effluent, reporting a stable performance of the sewage plant. Eight different polymer families were identified, LDPE film being the most abundant form, with 10 different colors and sizes mainly between 1–2 mm. Future efforts should be dedicated to source control, plastic waste management, improvement of legislation, and specific microplastic-targeted treatment units, especially for microfiber removal. View Full-Text
Keywords: microplastic; wastewater; tertiary treatment; microfiber; oxidation ditch; RSF; UV disinfection microplastic; wastewater; tertiary treatment; microfiber; oxidation ditch; RSF; UV disinfection
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bayo, J.; Olmos, S.; López-Castellanos, J. Assessment of Microplastics in a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant with Tertiary Treatment: Removal Efficiencies and Loading per Day into the Environment. Water 2021, 13, 1339. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101339

AMA Style

Bayo J, Olmos S, López-Castellanos J. Assessment of Microplastics in a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant with Tertiary Treatment: Removal Efficiencies and Loading per Day into the Environment. Water. 2021; 13(10):1339. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101339

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bayo, Javier, Sonia Olmos, and Joaquín López-Castellanos. 2021. "Assessment of Microplastics in a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant with Tertiary Treatment: Removal Efficiencies and Loading per Day into the Environment" Water 13, no. 10: 1339. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101339

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