Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Susan D. Richardson


Water scarcity is of increasing global concern as rising demand depletes current sources, so other sources such as potable wastewater reuse are being utilized. Advanced wastewater reuse removes pathogens and many contaminants, but there are concerns about resistant contaminants and the transformation products that are generated during the treatment process. This research focuses on several different contaminant classes, how well they are removed via advanced treatment processes, what transformation products arise from both advanced treatment and chlorination disinfection, and how those treated waters may impact health via toxicity and estrogen activity.

Contaminant classes considered are illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals such as hormones and antibiotics, industrial chemicals, plasticizers, and biocides. Advanced treatment processes include microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and UV-AOPs. Disinfection is via chlorination, both with and without the presence of high bromide to simulate waters impacted by either natural or anthropogenic sources (such as heavy industry).

Numerous transformation products and disinfection by-products have been tentatively identified stemming from the various treatment methods. Most commonly seen are oxidation products and the addition of chlorine and/or bromine to the parent compounds, as well as some rearrangements. Toxicity and estrogen activity have been investigated to compare unreacted and reacted waters with these contaminants and transformation products, yielding a variety of responses depending on which compounds were present. Field samples from an actual advanced wastewater treatment plant were also tested for toxicity, estrogenicity, and transformation products, as well as then reacted with disinfectant in a controlled reaction. But due to the efficient removal of the treatment train utilized by the plant, no transformation products were identified in the field samples.


© 2022, Kristin Cochran

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