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Occurrence and fate of N-nitrosamines in full-scale domestic wastewater treatment plants and their impact on receiving waters along the Lijiang River, China

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  • Yingjie Chen
  • Honghu Zeng
  • Huanfang Huang
  • Litang Qin
  • Shihua Qi
  • Haixiang Li
  • Asfandyar Shahab
  • Hao Zhang
  • Wenwen Chen
Article number133870
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>5/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Hazardous Materials
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/03/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Domestic wastewaters contaminated with N-nitrosamines pose a significant threat to river ecosystems worldwide, particularly in urban areas with riparian cities. Despite widespread concern, the precise impact of these contaminants on receiving river waters remains uncertain. This study investigated eight N-nitrosamines in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and their adjacent receiving river, the Lijiang River in Guilin City, Southwest China. By analyzing thirty wastewater samples from five full-scale WWTPs and twenty-three river water samples from Guilin, we quantified the mass loads of N-nitrosamines discharged into the surrounding watershed via domestic effluents. The results revealed that N-nitrosodimethylamine (10–60 ng/L), N-nitrosodiethylamine (3.4–22 ng/L), and N-nitrosopyrrolidine (not detected–4.5 ng/g) were predominant in influents, effluents, and sludge, respectively, with the overall removal efficiencies ranging from 17.7 to 65.6% during wastewater treatment. Cyclic activated sludge system and ultraviolet disinfection were effective in removing N-nitrosamines (rates of 59.6% and 24.3%), while chlorine dioxide disinfection promoted their formation. A total of 30.4 g/day of N-nitrosamine mass loads were observed in the Lijiang River water, with domestic effluents contributing about 31.3% (19.4 g/day), followed by livestock breeding wastewater (34.5%, 12.0 g/day), and unknown sources (24.7%, 7.5 g/day). These findings highlight the critical role of WWTPs in transporting N-nitrosamines to watersheds and emphasize the urgent need for further investigation into other potential sources of N-nitrosamine pollution within watersheds.