Vacuum collected black (toilet) water contains hormones and pharmaceuticals in relatively high concentrations (μg/L to mg/L range) and separate specific treatment has the potential of minimizing their discharge to surface waters. In this study, the fate of estrogens (natural and synthetical hormones) and pharmaceuticals (paracetamol, metoprolol, propranolol, cetirizine, doxycycline, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim, carbamazepine, ibuprofen and diclofenac) in the anaerobic treatment of vacuum collected black water followed by nitrogen removal by partial nitritation-anammox was investigated. A new analytical method was developed to detect the presence of several compounds in the complex matrix of concentrated black water. Detected concentrations in black water ranged from 1.1 μg/L for carbamazepine to >1000 μg/L for paracetamol. Anaerobic treatment was only suitable to remove the majority of paracetamol (>90%). Metoprolol was partly removed (67%) during aerobic treatment. Deconjugation could have affected the removal efficiency of ibuprofen as concentrations even increased during anaerobic treatment and only after the anammox treatment 77% of ibuprofen was removed. The presence of persistent micro-pollutants (diclofenac, carbamazepine and cetirizine), which are not susceptible for biodegradation, makes the application of advanced physical and chemical treatment unavoidable.
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