Preliminary screening of small-scale domestic wastewater treatment systems for removal of pharmaceutical and personal care products

Water Res. 2009 Jan;43(1):55-62. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2008.10.005. Epub 2008 Oct 17.


Occurrence and removal efficiencies of 13 pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) as well as BOD(5), TSS and NH(4)(+) were evaluated for the first time in thirteen onsite household secondary wastewater treatment systems, including two compact biofilters followed by Filtralite-P filter units, two biological sand filters, five horizontal subsurface flow and four vertical flow constructed wetlands. As expected, all systems removed TSS and BOD(5) efficiently (>95% removal). The PPCP removal efficiencies exceeded 80% with the exception of carbamazepine, diclofenac and ketoprofen because of their more recalcitrant characteristics. Despite no statistical differences in the PPCP removal were observed between the different systems evaluated, the vegetated vertical flow constructed wetlands which had unsaturated flow and hence better oxygenation, appeared consistently to perform better in terms of PPCP removal efficiency. The combined effects of vegetation and unsaturated water flow provide a higher tolerance to variations in loading rate and a consistent removal rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / isolation & purification*
  • Denmark
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / isolation & purification*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations