The removal of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by activated sludge

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Benzo-a-pyrene, a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, was injected into the aeration tank of an activated sludge pilot plant in an investigation to determine the ability of activated sludge to effectively treat this compound.

The method employed to segregate Benzo-a-pyrene from other organics was a modified Soxhlet technique followed by gas chromatographic analysis. The amount of Benzo-a-pyrene detected in the effluent, supernatant, sludge filtrate and sludge cake was tabulated to determine the mechanism of removal.

The experimental results indicated that adsorption appeared to be.the primary mechanism of removal. The concentration of Benzo-a-pyrene in the effluent collected from the pilot plant was below the level of detection by gas chromatography.

On the basis of the experimental evidence activated . sludge provides satisfactory treatment for wastes containing low concentrations (i.e. 0.5 mg/l) of Benzo-a-pyrene, a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.