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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Estimation of kinetic rate constants for biodegradation of chemicals in activated sludge wastewater treatment plants using short term batch experiments and microgram/L range spiked concentrations.

Biodegradation rate constants that are believed to be predictive for activated sludge sewage treatment plants have been determined at microgram/L concentration levels using short term (hours) laboratory scale batch experiments with activated sludge. Rate constants were estimated for four model chemicals with widely different biodegradability characteristics, and experiments were conducted with sludges of various origin and treatment. Test substances were applied at concentrations ranging from a few microgram/L for deriving first order rate constants and up to several mg/L for full investigation of the kinetics. Model substances were acetate, aniline, 4-chloroaniline and pentachlorophenol and their biodegradation was assessed by means of 14C tracer technique. Some experiments included test concentrations equal to those prescribed in standard biodegradability tests (20 mg DOC/L). Sludge types investigated included adapted and non-adapted sludge from laboratory scale semicontinuous reactors as well as sludges collected from a pilot scale sewage treatment plant loaded with predominantly domestic sewage. At low chemical concentrations ( < approx. 100 micrograms/L) first order degradation rate constants were reasonably constant and varied only little with the applied concentration. With aniline, however, elimination rates increased at concentrations below about 20 micrograms/L, probably because transient sorption became significant. At higher concentrations absolute (linear) degradation rates could be described by saturation kinetics, and for aniline a half saturation constant, K(S), was estimated at 3 mg/L. "Best estimates" of average first order rate constants in the low concentration regime measured with 3 g SS/L and at 22 degrees C were: acetate, 8 h-1; aniline, 0.8 h-1, 4-chloroaniline, 0.15 h-1, and pentachlorophenol, 0.01 h-1 (non adapted sludge) or 0.02 h-1 (adapted sludge). These figures seem to agree well with standard or default biodegradation rate constants for sewage treatment plants suggested in a European Union technical guidance document for chemical risk assessment, which is currently under preparation.[1]


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