Science of the Total Environment, 15 March 2019, Vol.656, pp.1250-1260
Interpreting the fate of wastewater contaminants in streams is difficult because their inputs vary in time and several processes synchronously affect reactive transport. We present a method to disentangle the various influences by performing a conservative-tracer test while sampling a stream section at various locations for chemical analysis of micropollutants. By comparing the outflow concentrations of contaminants with the tracer signal convoluted by the inflow time series, we estimated reaction rate coefficients and calculated the contaminant removal along a river section. The method was tested at River Steinlach, Germany, where 38 contaminants were monitored. Comparing day-time and night-time experiments allowed distinguishing photo-dependent degradation from other elimination processes. While photo-dependent degradation showed to be highly efficient for the removal of metroprolol, bisoprolol, and venlafaxine, its impact on contaminant removal was on a similar scale to the photo-independent processes when averaged over 24 h. For a selection of compounds analyzed in the present study, bio- and photodegradation were higher than in previous field studies. In the Steinlach study, we observed extraordinarily effective removal processes that may be due to the higher proportion of treated wastewater, temperature, DOC and nitrate concentrations, but also a higher surface to volume ratio from low flow conditions that favorizes photodegradation through the shallow water column and a larger transient storage than observed in comparable studies.
Micropollutants ; Transfer Function ; (de)Convolution ; Photodegradation ; Photo-Independent Degradation ; Environmental Sciences ; Biology ; Public Health
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