Modelling the Fate of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) during the Municipal Sewage Treatment Process

K.N. McPhedran and R. Seth (Canada)


Water and wastewater management; polybrominated diphenyl ethers; sewage treatment; mass balance model; risk assessment; chemical fate and transport.


Sewage treatment plants (STPs) are an important source to the environment for many chemicals of concern (COCs). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are one such group of COCs of present day concern for which studies on fate and transport during the STP process are limited. Availability of robust and well-tested STP models is useful in the quantification of environmental loadings and associated risk from STP discharges. In the present study, one such model (STP model) has been tested on monitoring data collected at a full-scale STP for five congeners of a commercial PBDE technical mixture. Results show that the observed trend of chemical removal and concentrations at various stages of the sewage treatment process were well simulated by the STP model for all five PBDE congeners. Continued development and evaluation of the model should continue in the future to improve its reliability and expand its applicability to a larger universe of COCs.

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