Impact of Long-Term Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Exposure on Activated Sludge Process
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Poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) are groups of persistent toxic substances that have been commonly detected in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In some cases, the activated sludge (AS) in WWTPs will encounter special wastewaters containing PFASs up to tens of milligram per liter (mg L−1). However, under this condition, the potential impacts of PFASs on AS process remain unclear. In the present research, a lab-scale sequencing batch reactor was continuously exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used as a representation for PFASs, at 20 mg L−1 to mimic the extreme condition. The objective is to explore the impact of PFOA on AS process in terms of its wastewater treatment performance and evolution of microbial communities. The results indicate that PFOA restrained the microbial growth and affected the dissolved organic carbon removal. These negative impacts could be recovered after long-term adaptation. Besides, 20 mg L−1 PFOA shows limited inhibition on nitrification and denitrification, suggesting a safe exposure level of PFOA for nitrogen removal. For microbial evolution, PFOA induced changes of communities during long-term exposure. The high abundance of Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Acidobacteria maintained over time reveals their tolerance towards PFOA. The occurrences of PFOA-resistant species are also observed. The present research provides new insight into the possible impacts of typical PFAS at high concentrations on AS process.
KeywordsPFOA Activated sludge Microbial community Wastewater treatment performance
Xiaolong YU receives the financial support from the China Scholarship Council (CSC, No. 201508050090). Mr. Chisato MATSUMURA and Mr. Ryosuke YOSHIKI in Hyogo Prefectural Institute of Environmental Sciences are appreciated for their cooperation of collecting inoculum sludge. This study was supported by the GAIA Project (Gesuido Academic Incubation to Advanced Project, 2015) of Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. This study was also supported by Charitable Trust Sewage Works Promotion Fund (No. 28-16), Japan Sewage Works Association.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interest.
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