Anionic surfactants in treated sewage and sludges: risk assessment to aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Research paper by Arvind Kumar AK Mungray, Pradeep P Kumar

Indexed on: 21 Aug '07Published on: 21 Aug '07Published in: Bioresource Technology


Compared to low concentrations of anionic surfactants (AS) in activated sludge process effluents (ASP) (<0.2 mg/L), upflow anaerobic sludge blanket-polishing pond (UASB-PP) effluents were found to contain very high concentrations of AS (>3.5 mg/L). AS (or linear alkylbenzen sulfonate, LAS) removals >99% have been found for ASP while in case of UASB-PP it was found to be < or = 30%. AS concentrations averaged 7347 and 1452 mg/kg dry wt. in wet UASB and dried sludges, respectively. Treated sewage from UASB based sewage treatment plants (STPs) when discharged to aquatic ecosystems are likely to generate substantial risk. Post-treatment using 1-1.6d detention, anaerobic, non-algal polishing ponds was found ineffective. Need of utilizing an aerobic method of post-treatment of UASB effluent in place of an anaerobic one has been emphasized. Natural drying of UASB sludges on sludge drying beds (SDBs) under aerobic conditions results in reduction of adsorbed AS by around 80%. Application of UASB sludges on SDBs was found simple, economical and effective. While disposal of treated UASB effluent may cause risk to aquatic ecosystems, use of dried UASB sludges is not likely to cause risk to terrestrial ecosystems.