Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 56, Issue 18

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American Chemical Society (ACS)
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Pore-Scale Heterogeneities Improve the Degradation of a Self-Inhibiting Substrate: Insights from Reactive Transport Modeling
Mehdi Gharasoo | Martin Elsner | Philippe Van Cappellen | Martin Thullner

In situ bioremediation is a common remediation strategy for many groundwater contaminants. It was traditionally believed that (in the absence of mixing-limitations) a better in situ bioremediation is obtained in a more homogeneous medium where the even distribution of both substrate and bacteria facilitates the access of a larger portion of the bacterial community to a higher amount of substrate. Such conclusions were driven with the typical assumption of disregarding substrate inhibitory effects on the metabolic activity of enzymes at high concentration levels. To investigate the influence of pore matrix heterogeneities on substrate inhibition, we use a numerical approach to solve reactive transport processes in the presence of pore-scale heterogeneities. To this end, a rigorous reactive pore network model is developed and used to model the reactive transport of a self-inhibiting substrate under both transient and steady-state conditions through media with various, spatially correlated, pore-size distributions. For the first time, we explore on the basis of a pore-scale model approach the link between pore-size heterogeneities and substrate inhibition. Our results show that for a self-inhibiting substrate, (1) pore-scale heterogeneities can consistently promote degradation rates at toxic levels, (2) the effect reverses when the concentrations fall to levels essential for microbial growth, and (3) an engineered combination of homogeneous and heterogeneous media can increase the overall efficiency of bioremediation.

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Molecular Characterization of Estrogen Receptor Agonists during Sewage Treatment Processes Using Effect-Directed Analysis Combined with High-Resolution Full-Scan Screening
Jiyun Gwak | Junghyun Lee | Jihyun Cha | Kim Mun-Gi | Jin Hur | Jinwoo Cho | Min Sung Kim | Kyoung‐Soon Jang | John P. Giesy | Seongjin Hong | Jong Seong Khim

Endocrine-disrupting potential was evaluated during the sewage treatment process using in vitro bioassays. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-, androgen receptor (AR)-, glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-, and estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated activities were assessed over five steps of the treatment process. Bioassays of organic extracts showed that AhR, AR, and GR potencies tended to decrease through the sewage treatment process, whereas ER potencies did not significantly decrease. Bioassays on reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography fractions showed that F5 (log KOW 2.5-3.0) had great ER potencies. Full-scan screening of these fractions detected two novel ER agonists, arenobufagin and loratadine, which are used pharmaceuticals. These compounds accounted for 3.3-25% of the total ER potencies and 4% of the ER potencies in the final effluent. The well-known ER agonists, estrone and 17β-estradiol, accounted for 60 and 17% of the ER potencies in F5 of the influent and primary treatment, respectively. Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry analysis showed that various molecules were generated during the treatment process, especially CHO and CHOS (C: carbon, H: hydrogen, O: oxygen, and S: sulfur). This study documented that widely used pharmaceuticals are introduced into the aquatic environments without being removed during the sewage treatment process.