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Sulfamethazine removal in anaerobic reactors treating swine wastewater

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Guilherme Henrique Duarte de Oliveira
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Carlos.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Escola de Engenharia de São Carlos (EESC/SBD)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Marcelo Zaiat; Sérgio Francisco de Aquino; Eduardo Bessa Azevedo; Pedro Sérgio Fadini; José Alberto Domingues Rodrigues
Advisor: Marcelo Zaiat

Environmental contamination by antibiotics and antimicrobial chemotherapeutics has drawn the attention of the scientific community because of the possibility of bacterial resistance development and toxic effects on non-target organisms. Contaminated wastewaters are the main sources of antimicrobial dispersion to the environment. While anaerobic technologies have been increasingly applied to the treatment of agricultural wastewaters, which are often contaminated with antimicrobials, little is known about the changes that these micropollutants can undergo during treatment. The objective of this study was to investigate the degradation of the veterinary antimicrobial sulfamethazine (SMZ) during the anaerobic treatment of swine wastewater. Three experimental phases were performed. In the first phase, batch tests were performed in order to evaluate the contribution of anaerobic biodegradation and other phenomena to the overall removal of SMZ from the liquid phase. The second phase involved the operation of three continuous, bench-scale anaerobic reactors fed with SMZ-contaminated synthetic wastewater: a horizontal-flow anaerobic immobilized biomass (HAIB) reactor, an anaerobic stirred reactor with immobilized biomass (ASRIB) and an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor. The effect of varying the total influent COD and the HRT on SMZ removal efficiency was evaluated. In the third phase, the HAIB was fed with real presedimented swine wastewater contaminated with SMZ. The results obtained during the first phase allowed the development of a two-compartment mathematical model which established the aqueous phase as the bioavailable compartment for SMZ degradation. No significant differences in SMZ removal performance between the three reactors were observed in the second phase. The maximum removal of SMZ was observed for a HRT of 24 h and total influent COD of 3000 mg O2.L-1, which resulted in average SMZ removal efficiencies of 74%, 71% and 70% for the HAIB, ASRIB and UASB reactors, respectively. It was observed that the anaerobic biodegradation SMZ is favored by increasing the organic matter degradation rate, as expected for cometabolic transformations. Although SMZ degradation ceased when the HAIB was fed with swine wastewater, the experimental results showed that the biodegradation of SMZ occurs in anaerobic reactors and can be enhanced by controlling appropriate operating parameters, demonstrating the potential of this technology for the abatement of SMZ emission. (AU)