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 Towards More Sustainable Wastewater Treatment: Consideration of Transformation Products of Organic Chemical Contaminants
Coordinator: EPOC-LPTC (H. Budzinski) Funding :


Partners :

Irstea-REVERSAAL (JM Choubert)

LGC (C. Albasi)



Water is a scarce resource that must be protected. Preserving its quality is therefore a major challenge for both the environment and human health. In this perspective, it is important to characterize and understand the factors that can affect it. Among these factors is chemical contamination, the aquatic environment being its ultimate receptacle. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) adopted in Europe in 2000 (2000/60/EC) aims to protect and/or restore the quality of aquatic ecosystems. In this context, many works have studied organic micropollutants in recent years. Knowledge concerning their presence, pathways, sources and impacts on aquatic ecosystems has increased considerably. Wastewater has emerged as an important source of micropollutants in connection with the consumption of manufactured products. Within the framework of the protection of the quality of aquatic environments, the application of the WFD has led to the strengthening of regulations on urban wastewater treatment and the generalization of biological processes such as activated sludge with prolonged aeration or biofilters, which significantly eliminate organic micropollutants. Oxidation processes are involved and may lead to degradation that may not be complete, generating relatively stable and toxic transformation products (TP) that may be found in both sludge and liquid effluents. So far, data on TPs remain scarce and limited to a few compounds. Thus, it appears essential that future research projects address the issue of TPs in order to elucidate their presence, formation and fate throughout the wastewater treatment system up to their potential entry into the aquatic environment through wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent discharges. TRANSPRO is part of this perspective and proposes to study the formation of TP, by developing innovative screening methods using both chemical (High Resolution Mass Spectrometry) and biological (in vitro) tools. It will study the entire wastewater treatment system (from the WWTP inputs) to natural aquatic ecosystems, focusing on different types of treatment processes in relation to their capacity to generate TPs as well as natural processes (biodegradation, photo-oxidation) that can give rise to transformations in the environment itself. TRANSPRO should improve our knowledge of the nature, origin, and dynamics of TPs. It will also make it possible to classify wastewater treatment processes with respect to their tendency to generate TPs and to help select the most efficient process in terms of degradation of parent contaminants but minimizing the formation of TPs.

TRANSPRO is carried by a consortium of public partners. It is a collaborative project involving a strong partnership based on multidisciplinary expertise, associating analytical chemists (EPOC), physical chemists (EPOC, LGC), environmental chemists (EPOC, Irstea), process engineering and modeling specialists (Irstea, LGC), (eco) toxicologists (EPOC), specialists in wastewater treatment systems (LGC, Irstea); all brought together to address a common issue: which processes generate TPs, what are these TPs and which ones are relevant from an environmental point of view? TRANSPRO will thus provide knowledge that will contribute to improve wastewater treatment in order to design the wastewater treatment systems of the future.