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Potential for Accumulation of Boron in Direct Potable Reuse

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This report analyzes the potential for accumulation of boron in direct potable reuse. Direct potable reuse treats water through desalination processes such as reverse osmosis or nanofiltration which can achieve rejection rates of salts sometimes above 90%. However, boron achieves

This report analyzes the potential for accumulation of boron in direct potable reuse. Direct potable reuse treats water through desalination processes such as reverse osmosis or nanofiltration which can achieve rejection rates of salts sometimes above 90%. However, boron achieves much lower rejection rates near 40%. Because of this low rejection rate, there is potential for boron to accumulate in the system to levels that are not recommended for potable human consumption of water. To analyze this issue a code was created that runs a steady state system that tracks the internal concentration, permeate concentration, wastewater concentration and reject concentration at various rejection rates, as well as all the flows. A series of flow and mass balances were performed through five different control volumes that denoted different stages in the water use. First was mixing of clean water with permeate; second, consumptive uses; third, addition of contaminant; fourth, wastewater treatment; fifth, advanced water treatments. The system cycled through each of these a number of times until steady state was reached. Utilities or cities considering employing direct potable reuse could utilize this model by estimating their consumption levels and input of contamination, and then seeing what percent rejection or inflow of makeup water they would need to obtain to keep boron levels at a low enough concentration to be fit for consumption. This code also provides options for analyzing spikes and recovery in the system due to spills, and evaporative uses such as cooling towers and their impact on the system.

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2017-12

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Contaminants of emerging concern in U.S. sewage sludges and forecasting of associated ecological and human health risks using sewage epidemiology approaches

Description

Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The

Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The objective of the present study was to extrapolate this concept, termed 'sewage epidemiology', to include municipal sewage sludge (MSS) in identifying and prioritizing contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). To test this the following specific aims were defined: i) to screen and identify CECs in nationally representative samples of MSS and to provide nationwide inventories of CECs in U.S. MSS; ii) to investigate the fate and persistence in MSS-amended soils, of sludge-borne hydrophobic CECs; and iii) to develop an analytical tool relying on contaminant levels in MSS as an indicator for identifying and prioritizing hydrophobic CECs. Chemicals that are primarily discharged to the sewage systems (alkylphenol surfactants) and widespread persistent organohalogen pollutants (perfluorochemicals and brominated flame retardants) were analyzed in nationally representative MSS samples. A meta-analysis showed that CECs contribute about 0.04-0.15% to the total dry mass of MSS, a mass equivalent of 2,700-7,900 metric tonnes of chemicals annually. An analysis of archived mesocoms from a sludge weathering study showed that 64 CECs persisted in MSS/soil mixtures over the course of the experiment, with half-lives ranging between 224 and >990 days; these results suggest an inherent persistence of CECs that accumulate in MSS. A comparison of the spectrum of chemicals (n=52) analyzed in nationally representative biological specimens from humans and MSS revealed 70% overlap. This observed co-occurrence of contaminants in both matrices suggests that MSS may serve as an indicator for ongoing human exposures and body burdens of pollutants in humans. In conclusion, I posit that this novel approach in sewage epidemiology may serve to pre-screen and prioritize the several thousands of known or suspected CECs to identify those that are most prone to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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2013

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Impact of copper nanoparticles on inactivation and toxicity pathway on model bacteria

Description

Nanotechnology is a scientific field that has recently expanded due to its applications in pharmaceutical and personal care products, industry and agriculture. As result of this unprecedented growth, nanoparticles (NPs) have become a significant environmental contaminant, with potential to impact

Nanotechnology is a scientific field that has recently expanded due to its applications in pharmaceutical and personal care products, industry and agriculture. As result of this unprecedented growth, nanoparticles (NPs) have become a significant environmental contaminant, with potential to impact various forms of life in environment. Metal nanoparticles (mNPs) exhibit unique properties such as increased chemical reactivity due to high specific surface area to volume ratios. Bacteria play a major role in many natural and engineered biogeochemical reactions in wastewater treatment plants and other environmental compartments. I have evaluated the laboratory isolates of E. coli, Bacillus, Alcaligenes, Pseudomonas; wastewater isolates of E. coli and Bacillus; and pathogenic isolate of E. coli for their response to 50 & 100 nm sized Cu nanoparticles (CuNPs). Bactericidal tests, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses, and probable toxicity pathways assays were performed. The results indicate that under continuous mixing conditions, CuNPs are effective in inactivation of the selected bacterial isolates. In general, exposure to CuNPs resulted in 4 to >6 log reduction in bacterial population within 2 hours. Based on the GR, LDH and MTT assays, bacterial cells showed different toxicity elicitation pathways after exposure to CuNPs. Therefore, it can be concluded that the laboratory isolates are good candidates for predicting the behavior of environmental isolates exposed to CuNPs. Also, high inactivation values recorded in this study suggest that the presence of CuNPs in different environmental compartments may have an impact on pollutants attenuation and wastewater biological treatment processes. These results point towards the need for an in depth investigation of the impact of NPs on the biological processes; and long-term effect of high load of NPs on the stability of aquatic and terrestrial ecologies.

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2012

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Biosensor platform for rapid detection of E. coli in drinking water

Description

The need for rapid, specific and sensitive assays that provide a detection of bacterial indicators are important for monitoring water quality. Rapid detection using biosensor is a novel approach for microbiological testing applications. Besides, validation of rapid methods

The need for rapid, specific and sensitive assays that provide a detection of bacterial indicators are important for monitoring water quality. Rapid detection using biosensor is a novel approach for microbiological testing applications. Besides, validation of rapid methods is an obstacle in adoption of such new bio-sensing technologies. In this study, the strategy developed is based on using the compound 4-methylumbelliferyl glucuronide (MUG), which is hydrolyzed rapidly by the action of E. coli β-D-glucuronidase (GUD) enzyme to yield a fluorogenic product that can be quantified and directly related to the number of E. coli cells present in water samples. The detection time required for the biosensor response ranged from 30 to 120 minutes, depending on the number of bacteria. The specificity of the MUG based biosensor platform assay for the detection of E. coli was examined by pure cultures of non-target bacterial genera and also non-target substrates. GUD activity was found to be specific for E. coli and no such enzymatic activity was detected in other species. Moreover, the sensitivity of rapid enzymatic assays was investigated and repeatedly determined to be less than 10 E. coli cells per reaction vial concentrated from 100 mL of water samples. The applicability of the method was tested by performing fluorescence assays under pure and mixed bacterial flora in environmental samples. In addition, the procedural QA/QC for routine monitoring of drinking water samples have been validated by comparing the performance of the biosensor platform for the detection of E. coli and culture-based standard techniques such as Membrane Filtration (MF). The results of this study indicated that the fluorescence signals generated in samples using specific substrate molecules can be utilized to develop a bio-sensing platform for the detection of E. coli in drinking water. The procedural QA/QC of the biosensor will provide both industry and regulatory authorities a useful tool for near real-time monitoring of E. coli in drinking water samples. Furthermore, this system can be applied independently or in conjunction with other methods as a part of an array of biochemical assays in order to reliably detect E. coli in water.

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2015

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Assessing outdoor algal cultivation in panel and raceway photobioreactors for biomass and lipid productivity

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Over the past decade, there has been a revival in applied algal research and attempts at commercialization. However, the main limitation in algal commercialization is the process of cultivation, which is one of the main cost and energy burdens in

Over the past decade, there has been a revival in applied algal research and attempts at commercialization. However, the main limitation in algal commercialization is the process of cultivation, which is one of the main cost and energy burdens in producing biomass that is economically feasible for different products. There are several parameters that must be considered when growing algae, including the type of growth system and operating mode, preferred organism(s), and many other criteria that affect the process of algal cultivation. The purpose of this dissertation was to assess key variables that affect algal productivity and to improve outdoor algal cultivation procedures. The effect of reducing or eliminating aeration of algal cultures at night, in flat panel photobioreactors (panels), was investigated to assess the reduction of energy consumption at night. The lack of aeration at night resulted in anoxic conditions, which significantly reduced lipid accumulation and productivity, but did not affect log phase biomass productivity. In addition, the reduction in aeration resulted in lower pH values, which prevented ammonia volatility and toxicity. Raceways are operated at deeper cultivation depths, which limit culture density and light exposure. Experimentation was accomplished to determine the effects of decreasing cultivation depth, which resulted in increased lipid accumulation and lipid productivity, but did not significantly affect biomass productivity. A comparison of semi-continuous cultivation of algae in raceways and panels in side-by-side experiments showed that panels provided better temperature control and higher levels of mixing, which resulted in higher biomass productivity. In addition, sub-optimal morning temperatures in raceways compared to panels were a significant factor in reducing algae biomass productivity. The results from this research indicate that increasing lipid productivity and biomass productivity cannot be completed simultaneously. Therefore, the desired product will determine if lipid or biomass productivity is more crucial, which also dictates whether the system should be operated in batch mode to either allow lipid accumulation or in semi-continuous mode to allow high biomass productivity. This work is a critical step in improving algal cultivation by understanding key variables that limit biomass and lipid productivity.

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Date Created
2015

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The development and evaluation of biofuel production systems on marginal land

Description

The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study

The consumption of feedstocks from agriculture and forestry by current biofuel production has raised concerns about food security and land availability. In the meantime, intensive human activities have created a large amount of marginal lands that require management. This study investigated the viability of aligning land management with biofuel production on marginal lands. Biofuel crop production on two types of marginal lands, namely urban vacant lots and abandoned mine lands (AMLs), were assessed. The investigation of biofuel production on urban marginal land was carried out in Pittsburgh between 2008 and 2011, using the sunflower gardens developed by a Pittsburgh non-profit as an example. Results showed that the crops from urban marginal lands were safe for biofuel. The crop yield was 20% of that on agricultural land while the low input agriculture was used in crop cultivation. The energy balance analysis demonstrated that the sunflower gardens could produce a net energy return even at the current low yield. Biofuel production on AML was assessed from experiments conducted in a greenhouse for sunflower, soybean, corn, canola and camelina. The research successfully created an industrial symbiosis by using bauxite as soil amendment to enable plant growth on very acidic mine refuse. Phytoremediation and soil amendments were found to be able to effectively reduce contamination in the AML and its runoff. Results from this research supported that biofuel production on marginal lands could be a unique and feasible option for cultivating biofuel feedstocks.

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Date Created
2013

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Analysis of photocatalysis for precursor removal and formation inhibition of disinfection byproducts

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Disinfection byproducts are the result of reactions between natural organic matter (NOM) and a disinfectant. The formation and speciation of DBP formation is largely dependent on the disinfectant used and the natural organic matter (NOM) concentration and composition. This study

Disinfection byproducts are the result of reactions between natural organic matter (NOM) and a disinfectant. The formation and speciation of DBP formation is largely dependent on the disinfectant used and the natural organic matter (NOM) concentration and composition. This study examined the use of photocatalysis with titanium dioxide for the oxidation and removal of DBP precursors (NOM) and the inhibition of DBP formation. Water sources were collected from various points in the treatment process, treated with photocatalysis, and chlorinated to analyze the implications on total trihalomethane (TTHM) and the five haloacetic acids (HAA5) formations. The three sub-objectives for this study included: the comparison of enhanced and standard coagulation to photocatalysis for the removal of DBP precursors; the analysis of photocatalysis and characterization of organic matter using size exclusion chromatography and fluorescence spectroscopy and excitation-emission matrices; and the analysis of photocatalysis before GAC filtration. There were consistencies in the trends for each objective including reduced DBP precursors, measured as dissolved organic carbon DOC concentration and UV absorbance at 254 nm. Both of these parameters decreased with increased photocatalytic treatment and could be due in part to the adsorption to as well as the oxidation of NOM on the TiO2 surface. This resulted in lower THM and HAA concentrations at Medium and High photocatalytic treatment levels. However, at No UV exposure and Low photocatalytic treatment levels where oxidation reactions were inherently incomplete, there was an increase in THM and HAA formation potential, in most cases being significantly greater than those found in the raw water or Control samples. The size exclusion chromatography (SEC) results suggest that photocatalysis preferentially degrades the higher molecular mass fraction of NOM releasing lower molecular mass (LMM) compounds that have not been completely oxidized. The molecular weight distributions could explain the THM and HAA formation potentials that decreased at the No UV exposure samples but increased at Low photocatalytic treatment levels. The use of photocatalysis before GAC adsorption appears to increase bed life of the contactors; however, higher photocatalytic treatment levels have been shown to completely mineralize NOM and would therefore not require additional GAC adsorption after photocatalysis.

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2011

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The use of Bacteroides genetic markers to identify microbial sources in natural water

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Water quality in surface water is frequently degraded by fecal contamination from human and animal sources, imposing negative implications for recreational water use and public safety. For this reason it is critical to identify the source of fecal contamination in

Water quality in surface water is frequently degraded by fecal contamination from human and animal sources, imposing negative implications for recreational water use and public safety. For this reason it is critical to identify the source of fecal contamination in bodies of water in order to take proper corrective actions for controlling fecal pollution. Bacteroides genetic markers have been widely used to differentiate human from other sources of fecal bacteria in water. The results of this study indicate that many assays currently used to detect human-specific Bacteroides produce false positive results in the presence of freshwater fish. To further characterize Bacteroides from fish and human, the fecal samples were cultured, speciated, and identified. As a result, forty six new Bacteroides 16S rRNA gene sequences have been deposited to the NCBI database. These sequences, along with selected animal fecal sample Bacteroides, were aligned against human B. volgatus, B. fragilis, and B. dorei to identify multi-segmented variable regions within the 16S rRNA gene sequence. The collected sequences were truncated and used to construct a cladogram, showing a clear separation between human B. dorei and Bacteroides from other sources. A proposed strategy for source tracking was field tested by collecting water samples from central AZ source water and three different recreational ponds. PCR using HF134 and HF183 primer sets were performed and sequences for positive reactions were then aligned against human Bacteroides to identify the source of contamination. For the samples testing positive using the HF183 primer set (8/13), fecal contamination was determined to be from human sources. To confirm the results, PCR products were sequenced and aligned against the four variable regions and incorporated within the truncated cladogram. As expected, the sequences from water samples with human fecal contamination grouped within the human clade. As an outcome of this study, a tool box strategy for Bacteroides source identification relying on PCR amplification, variable region analysis, human-specific Bacteroides PCR assays, and subsequent truncated cladogram grouping analysis has been developed. The proposed strategy offers a new method for microbial source tracking and provides step-wise methodology essential for identifying sources of fecal pollution.

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2012

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Evaluation of ecolabelling criteria using life cycle assessment

Description

Ecolabels are the main driving force of consumer knowledge in the realm of sustainable product purchasing. While ecolabels strive to improve consumer's purchasing decisions, they have overwhelmed the market, leaving consumers confused and distrustful of what each label means. This

Ecolabels are the main driving force of consumer knowledge in the realm of sustainable product purchasing. While ecolabels strive to improve consumer's purchasing decisions, they have overwhelmed the market, leaving consumers confused and distrustful of what each label means. This study attempts to validate and understand environmental concerns commonly found in ecolabel criteria and the implications they have within the life cycle of a product. A life cycle assessment (LCA) case study of cosmetic products is used in comparison with current ecolabel program criteria to assess whether or not ecolabels are effectively driving environmental improvements in high impact areas throughout the life cycle of a product. Focus is placed on determining the general issues addressed by ecolabelling criteria and how these issues relate to hotspots derived through a practiced scientific methodology. Through this analysis, it was determined that a majority the top performing supply chain environmental impacts are covered, in some fashion, within ecolabelling criteria, but some, such as agricultural land occupation, are covered to a lesser extent or not at all. Additional criteria are suggested to fill the gaps found in ecolabelling programs and better address the environmental impacts most pertinent to the supply chain. Ecolabels have also been found to have a broader coverage then what can currently be addressed using LCA. The results of this analysis have led to a set of recommendations for furthering the integration between ecolabels and life cycle tools.

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2012

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Analysis and modeling of residual compounds in process streams from U.S. wastewater treatment plants

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The presence of compounds such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment is a cause for concern as they exhibit secondary effects on non-target organisms and are also indicative of incomplete removal by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs)

The presence of compounds such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment is a cause for concern as they exhibit secondary effects on non-target organisms and are also indicative of incomplete removal by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) during water reclamation. Analytical methods and predictive models can help inform on the rates at which these contaminants enter the environment via biosolids use or wastewater effluent release to estimate the risk of adverse effects. The goals of this research project were to integrate the results obtained from the two different methods of risk assessment, (a) in silico modeling and (b) experimental analysis. Using a previously published empirical model, influent and effluent concentration ranges were predicted for 10 sterols and validated with peer-reviewed literature. The in silico risk assessment analysis performed for sterols and hormones in biosolids concluded that hormones possess high leaching potentials and that particularly 17-α-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) can pose significant threat to fathead minnows (P. promelas) via leaching from terrestrial depositions of biosolids. Six mega-composite biosolids samples representative of 94 WWTPs were analyzed for a suite of 120 PPCPs using the extended U.S. EPA Method 1694 protocol. Results indicated the presence of 26 previously unmonitored PPCPs in the samples with estimated annual release rates of 5-15 tons yr-1 via land application of biosolids. A mesocosm sampling analysis that was included in the study concluded that four compounds amitriptyline, paroxetine, propranolol and sertraline warrant further monitoring due to their high release rates from land applied biosolids and their calculated extended half-lives in soils. There is a growing interest in the scientific community towards the development of new analytical protocols for analyzing solid matrices such as biosolids for the presence of PPCPs and other established and emerging contaminants of concern. The two studies presented here are timely and an important addition to the increasing base of scientific articles regarding environmental release of PPCPs and exposure risks associated with biosolids land application. This research study emphasizes the need for coupling experimental results with predictive analytical modeling output in order to more fully assess the risks posed by compounds detected in biosolids.

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Date Created
2012