Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 17, pp 17058–17065 | Cite as

Effluent concentration and removal efficiency of nine heavy metals in secondary treatment plants in Shanghai, China

  • Jingjing Feng
  • Xiaolin Chen
  • Lei Jia
  • Qizhen Liu
  • Xiaojia Chen
  • Deming Han
  • Jinping Cheng
Research Article


Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are the most common form of industrial and municipal wastewater control. To evaluate the performance of wastewater treatment and the potential risk of treated wastewater to aquatic life and human health, the influent and effluent concentrations of nine toxic metals were determined in 12 full-scale WWTPs in Shanghai, China. The performance was evaluated based on national standards for reclamation and aquatic criteria published by US EPA, and by comparison with other full-scale WWTPs in different countries. Potential sources of heavy metals were recognized using partial correlation analysis, hierarchical clustering, and principal component analysis (PCA). Results indicated significant treatment effect on As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Pb, and Zn. The removal efficiencies ranged from 92% (Cr) to 16.7% (Hg). The results indicated potential acute and/or chronic effect of Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn on aquatic life and potential harmful effect of As and Mn on human health for the consumption of water and/or organism. The results of partial correlation analysis, hierarchical clustering based on cosine distance, and PCA, which were consistent with each other, suggested common source of Cd, Cr, Cu, and Pb and common source of As, Hg, Mn, Ni, and Zn. Hierarchical clustering based on Jaccard similarity suggested common source of Cd, Hg, and Ni, which was statistically proved by Fisher’s exact test.


Municipal wastewater treatment Heavy metal Trace metal Secondary treatment Removal efficiency Waste management 



We thank the technical support from the Ministry of Environmental Protection of People’s Republic of China and Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences and the cooperation of the investigated wastewater treatment plants.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1915_MOESM1_ESM.docx (34 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jingjing Feng
    • 1
  • Xiaolin Chen
    • 1
  • Lei Jia
    • 2
  • Qizhen Liu
    • 3
  • Xiaojia Chen
    • 1
  • Deming Han
    • 1
  • Jinping Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Academy of Environmental SciencesShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Environmental Monitoring CenterShanghaiChina

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