Comparative studies of aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation of methylparaben and propylparaben in activated sludge.

Research paper by Yang Y Wu, Qian Q Sun, Yu-Wen YW Wang, Cheng-Xun CX Deng, Chang-Ping CP Yu

Indexed on: 20 Dec '16Published on: 20 Dec '16Published in: Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety


The biodegradability of two typical parabens (methylparaben and propylparaben) in activated sludge, at initial concentrations of 1mgL(-1) or 10mgL(-1), was investigated under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. The results showed that microorganisms played a key role in degradation of parabens in WWTPs, especially in aerobic systems. The half-lives of methylparaben and propylparaben under aerobic conditions have been estimated to range between 15.8 and 19.8min, and benzoic acid was found to be one of the major biodegradation products. The calculated biodegradation efficiency of methylparaben and propylparaben in activated sludge under aerobic conditions was significantly higher than that observed under anaerobic (nitrate, sulfate, and Fe (III) reducing) conditions, as methylparaben and propylparaben exhibited comparatively higher persistence in anaerobic systems, with half-lives ≥43.3h and ≥8.6h, respectively. Overall, the results of this study imply that the majority of these parabens can be eliminated by aerobic biodegradation during conventional wastewater treatment processes, whereas minor removal is possible in anaerobic systems if an insufficient hydraulic retention time was maintained.