Sewage Water Treatment Including Elimination of Cytotoxicity and Endocrine Disruptors

O. Pollmann, L. van Rensburg, and N. Engel (South Africa)


Sewage water, odour reduction, organic material, water purification, endocrine disruptors, cytotoxicity


Sewage treatment has a number of problems besides the obvious need for the reduction of foul odours. Endocrine disruptors have recently been shown to have a negative effect on humans, animal and aquatic life, while poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) in these hormones interfere with the sexual differentiation of the aforementioned organisms. Traditional treatment for the removal of these pollutants included caustic soda, lime, alum, and chlorine. Theses treatments are perceived as the norm. This has had an impact on the environment, in many cases caused irre versible damage to soils, micro organisms, the whole spectrum of aquatic life, animals and humans. Untreated or semi treated sewage, ineffective systems (through neg ligence) and inefficient removal of organic material are the main causes of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) being re leased into aquatic ecosystems. The characteristic odour of sewage is caused by this gas in the anaerobic phase of sewage treatment. By using an organic medium as a filter material for untreated sewage water, the normally odour disappears immediately as the compounds responsible for this odour are absorbed by the organic medium, acting in the same way as activated carbon and the metabolism of bacteria and micro-organisms. Additionally the organic medium is able to break the bonds of the contaminant compounds, bind the discrete elements and precipitates them to the surface of the medium. Even endocrine dis rupting chemicals (EDCs) and cytotoxic compounds could be eliminated by use of the organic medium in question.

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