Does wastewater treatment plant upgrading with activated carbon result in an improvement of fish health?

Abstract : In the present study, the efficiency of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) upgraded with a powdered activated carbon unit for the reduction of micropollutants and the related advantages for fish health have been analyzed by means of different biomarkers, i.e. histopathological investigations, analyses of glycogen content and stress proteins, as well as by chemical analyses in different matrices. Comparative analyses were conducted prior and subsequent to the installation of the additional purification unit. Chemical analyses revealed a significant reduction of several pharmaceuticals, including diclofenac, carba-mazepine and metoprolol, in samples of effluent and surface water downstream of the WWTP after its upgrade. In addition, diminished concentrations of diclofenac and PFOS were detected in tissues of analyzed fish. Histopathological investigations of fish liver, gills, and kidney revealed improved tissue integrity in fish after improved wastewater treatment. In parallel, biochemical measurements of glycogen revealed increased energy resources in fish liver and, furthermore, hsp70 levels in livers of exposed rainbow trout and in kidneys of exposed brown trout were lower after than before the WWTP upgrade. In summary, additional treatment with powdered activated carbon led to a reduction of potentially hazardous chemicals in the effluent and the adjacent river and, consequently, to an improvement of fish health in the receiving water course.
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Sabrina Wilhelm, Anja Henneberg, Heinz-R. Köhler, Magali Rault, Doreen Richter, et al.. Does wastewater treatment plant upgrading with activated carbon result in an improvement of fish health?. Aquatic Toxicology, Elsevier, 2017, 192, pp.184-197. ⟨10.1016/j.aquatox.2017.09.017⟩. ⟨hal-02047744⟩



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