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Occurrence and removal of organic pollutants in sewages and landfill leachates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Sewages of different composition and the effluents of four sewage treatment plants (STPs), plus sewage sludges were analysed for semivolatile organic priority pollutants. Furthermore, 11 landfill leachates were analysed to evaluate their contribution to sewage pollutants when co-treated. Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) was the pollutant occurring at highest concentrations (up to 122 μg/l) and it was present in all sewages and leachates; concentrations of other phthalates were usually below 17 μg/l. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (<1 μg/l) and 2,6-dinitrotoluene (≤5.9 μg/l) were also present in many of the sewages and leachates. Phthalates were present in STP effluents in low concentrations (<8 μg/l), while PAHs were usually not present. DEHP concentrations were at the same level in the sewage consisting of household wastewater and stormwater runoff and the sewages also including industrial discharges and landfill leachates, while PAHs were present in sewages containing industrial discharges. Leachate contribution to the total pollutant load to the STP was less than 1%. Sorption of DEHP to different particle size fractions in sewage was studied by serial membrane filtration. Most of the DEHP (71-84%) was attached to the particles 0.1-41 μm in size, and approximately 10-27% of the DEHP was sorbed on particles larger than 41 μm. Less than 6% of the DEHP was in the fraction below 0.1 μm and readily available for microbial degradation.


  • DEHP, Leachate, Organic compounds, Particle size distribution, Sewage, Treatment