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- Biodegradation and elimination of industrial wastewater in the context of whole effluent assessment (2010)
- The focus of this thesis is on the assessment of the degradability of indirectly discharged wastewater in municipal treatment plants and on assessing indirectly discharged effluents by coupling the Zahn-Wellens test with effect-based bioassays. With this approach persistent toxicity of an indirectly discharged effluent can be detected and attributed to the respective emission source. In the first study 8 wastewater samples from different industrial sectors were analysed according to the “Whole-Effluent Assessment“ (WEA) approach developed by OSPAR. In another study this concept has been applied with 20 wastewater samples each from paper manufacturing and metal surface treating industry. In the first study generally low to moderate ecotoxic effects of wastewater samples have been determined. One textile wastewater sample was mutagenic in the Ames test and genotoxic in the umu test. The source of these effects could not be identified. After treatment in the Zahn-Wellens test the mutagenicity in the Ames test was eliminated completely while in the umu test genotoxicity could still be observed. Another wastewater sample from chemical industry was mutagenic in the Ames test. The mutagenicity with this wastewater sample was investigated by additional chemical analysis and backtracking. A nitro-aromatic compound (2-methoxy-4-nitroaniline) used for batchwise azo dye synthesis and its transformation products are the probable cause for the mutagenic effects analysed. Testing the mother liquor from dye production confirmed that this partial wastewater stream was mutagenic in the Ames test. The wasteweater samples from paper manufacturing industry of the second study were not toxic or genotoxic in the acute Daphnia test, fish egg test and umu test. In the luminescent bacteria test, moderate toxicity was observed. Wastewater of four paper mills demonstrated elevated or high algae toxicity, which was in line with the results of the Lemna test, which mostly was less sensitive than the algae test. The colouration of the wastewater samples in the visible band did not correlate with algae toxicity and thus is not considered as its primary origin. The algae toxicity in wastewater of the respective paper factory could also not be explained with the thermomechanically produced groundwood pulp (TMP) partial stream. Presumably other raw materials such as biocides might be the source of algae toxicity. In the algae test, often flat dose–response relationships and growth promotion at higher dilution factors have been observed, indicating that several effects are overlapping. The wastewater samples from the printed circuit board and electroplating industries (all indirectly discharged) were biologically pre-treated for 7 days in the Zahn–Wellens test before ecotoxicity testing. Thus, persistent toxicity could be discriminated from non-persistent toxicity caused, e.g. by ammonium or readily biodegradable compounds. With respect to the metal concentrations, all samples were not heavily polluted. The maximum conductivity of the samples was 43,700 micro S cm -1 and indicates that salts might contribute to the overall toxicity. Half of the wastewater samples proved to be biologically well treatable in the Zahn–Wellens test with COD elimination above 80%, whilst the others were insufficiently biodegraded (COD elimination 28–74%). After the pre-treatment in the Zahn–Wellens test, wastewater samples from four companies were extremely ecotoxic especially to algae. Three wastewater samples were genotoxic in the umu test. Applying the rules for salt correction to the test results following the German Wastewater Ordinance, only a small part of toxicity could be attributed to salts. In one factory, the origin of ecotoxicity has been attributed to the organosulphide dimethyldithiocarbamate (DMDTC) used as a water treatment chemical for metal precipitation. The assumption, based on rough calculation of input of the organosulphide into the wastewater, was confirmed in practice by testing its ecotoxicity at the corresponding dilution ratio after pre-treatment in the Zahn–Wellens test. The results show that bioassays are a suitable tool for assessing the ecotoxicological relevance of these complex organic mixtures. The combination of the Zahn–Wellens test followed by the performance of ecotoxicity tests turned out to be a cost-efficient suitable instrument for the evaluation of indirect dischargers and considers the requirements of the IPPC Directive.