BfG, Germany

Thomas A. Ternes graduated with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Mainz (Germany) in 1989...

… In 1993, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Mainz in Analytical Chemistry. In January 2001, he completed his habilitation and became an official lecturer at the University of Mainz. Since May 2003, he has been at the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) in Koblenz, Germany, where he recently became the head of the division of qualitative hydrology, and he is a lecturer at University of Koblenz-Landau. Since 1995, his research has focused on the analysis and the fate of organic pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, in various kinds of the aquatic environment. The identification of transformation products and the elucidation of transformation pathways is one of his research areas. Furthermore, he is dealing with the removal of emerging contaminants and their transformation products in wastewater and drinking water treatment and soil aquifer treatment.



Evaluation of the efficacy of advanced wastewater treatment processes for the elimination of micropollutants

Thomas Ternes1,*, Carsten Prasse1,2, Christian Lütke Eversloh1, Gregor Knopp3, Peter Cornel3, Ulrike Schulte-Oehlmann5, Anja Coors5, Jörg Oehlmann4

 1 Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG), Am Mainzer Tor 1, D-56068 Koblenz, Germany

2 Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley 406 O’Brien Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

3 Institute IWAR, Department Wastewater Technology and Water Reuse, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Franziska-Braun-Str. 7, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany

4 Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Goethe University Frankfurt, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

5 ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH, 65439 Flörsheim, Germany

 Emerging contaminants such as antibiotics, antidepressants or household chemicals are omnipresent in treated wastewater, since they are only partially removed during processes of wastewater treatment plants. The improvement of the analytical methods has recently allowed the confirmation that for the majority of the organic micropollutants, microbial degradation does not lead to mineralization but rather to the formation of a multitude of transformation products. Especially during biological processes an elevated number of stable transformation products are known to be formed. Currently, advanced treatment processes such as ozonation and activated carbon are applied to remove micropollutants present in the effluents of biological treatment processes. An integrated, multi-disciplinary concept has been developed to compare advanced wastewater treatment processes for their efficacy of eliminating micropollutants. The concept is based on i) the detection of selected indicator substances and their transformation products (TPs) and ii) the assessment of ecotoxicity using in-vitro tests. This approach was tested at a pilot plant in which conventional treated wastewater was subjected to ozonation followed by either granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration or by biofiltration (BF). Based on the newly developed evaluation concept, ozonation at this pilot plant resulted in significantly improved water quality due to the removal of micropollutants and the reduction of estrogenic effects, while in-vitro mutagenicity increased. Subsequent GAC post-treatment significantly reduced the mutagenic effects and the concentrations of remaining micropollutants, while this was not the case for the BF. The results highlight the suitability of the developed evaluation concept to assess processes of advanced wastewater treatment by considering chemical and ecotoxicological parameters.

Ternes, T.A., C. Prasse, C.,  Eversloh, C-L., Knopp, G., Cornel, P., Schulte-Oehlmann, U., Schwartz, T., Alexander, J.,  Seitz, W. Coors, A. and Oehlmann, J. Integrated Evaluation Concept to Assess the Efficacy of Advanced Wastewater Treatment Processes for the Elimination of Micropollutants and Pathogens. Environmental Science & Technology, 51(1), 308-319 (2017).