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China’s Wastewater Treatment Plants Found to Release Ecologically Harmful Pollutants

by Anna

A comprehensive study featured in Eco-Environment & Health has unveiled significant ecological threats stemming from trace organic pollutants present in the effluents of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across China. While WWTPs effectively remove common pollutants, this research sheds light on the often-overlooked trace organic pollutants that pose long-term risks to both ecosystems and human health.

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The study, conducted by analyzing 302 trace organic pollutants in 46 WWTPs throughout China, identified 216 compounds from 11 chemical classes. Major contributors to pollution were perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and bisphenol analogs (BPs), constituting 59% of total pollution. Advanced techniques such as HPLC-MS/MS and GC–MS/MS were employed for precise quantification.

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Ecological risk was assessed using the Risk Quotient (RQ) method, revealing 119 contaminants with significant ecological risks. Notably, 23 pollutants demanded immediate attention due to high RQ values. The study exposed regional disparities in pollutant concentrations and risks, emphasizing the urgency for comprehensive monitoring and stricter regulatory measures.

Lead researcher Guanghua Lu emphasized the study as a wake-up call, stressing the need for enhanced monitoring and regulatory measures. The findings underscore the critical importance of focused pollutant removal, technological advancements in treatment processes, and the implementation of stringent regulations to mitigate the ecological risks associated with trace organic pollutants in WWTP effluents.

The research advocates for a balanced strategy, combining technological innovations with robust regulatory enforcement to safeguard aquatic ecosystems and public health. By providing essential data for environmental managers and policymakers, the study aims to identify key contaminants for targeted control, emphasizing the necessity for advanced pollutant removal methods and advocating for stringent environmental regulations to ensure the protection of natural water resources and community well-being.

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