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Sewage sludge is one of the sinks for PAHs accumulation and concerns are growing regarding the environmental risk of the discharge of PAHs in waste activated sludge (WAS) as a major byproduct of sewage treatment. Here, we evaluated the effectiveness of ozone treatment to eliminate the 16 priority PAHs in WAS. The PAHs removal efficiency increased with ozone dosage and was strongly pH dependent. Even at ozone dosage of 40 mg O3·g-1, the PAHs removal efficiency at pH 9.0 (44.5%) was significantly higher than that observed at pH 5.0 and 200 mg O3·g-1 (41.7%). The pH-dependent elimination behavior of PAHs was attributed to the varying yield of hydroxyl radicals (OH) and degree of sludge disintegration (R2 = 0.88-0.92). Over 96% of the PAHs were in the particulate flocs (PF) phase, while the fraction bound to the freely dissolved (FS) and dissolved and colloidal (DC) matters was negligible, indicating the need of WAS disintegration during ozonation to make PAHs more accessible to O3 molecules and OH to initiate oxidation reactions. Failure of the three-compartment model to describe the PAHs sorption behavior in sludge matrix during ozonation implied that oxidation reaction occurred simultaneously with the partitioning of PAHs from PS to DC/FS fraction. Lastly, the results of the intermittent ozonation experiment demonstrated the interference of soluble organic compounds during PAHs degradation, particularly proteins and humic substances, as O3 and OH scavengers. At ozone dosage of 120 mg O3·g-1 (pH 9.0), the PAHs removal efficiency was improved by 19.5% by intermittent ozonation, as compared to continuous ozonation under the same conditions. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Wenhao Li, Nanwen Zhu, Yanwen Shen, Haiping Yuan. Towards efficient elimination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from waste activated sludge by ozonation. Environmental research. 2021 Apr;195:110783

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PMID: 33497683

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