Treatment of estrogens and androgens in dairy wastewater by a constructed wetland system.

K. Cai, Christopher Elliott, Debra Phillips, M.L. Scippo, M. Muller, Lisa Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Constructed wetland systems (CWS) have been used as a low cost bio-filtration system to treat farm wastewater. While studies have shown that CWS are efficient in removing organic compounds and pathogens, there is limited data on the presence of hormones in this type of treatment system. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of the CWS to reduce estrogenic and androgenic hormone concentration in dairy wastewater. This was achieved through a year long study on dairy wastewater samples obtained froma surface flow CWS. Analysis of hormonal levels was performed using a solid phase extraction (SPE) sample clean-up method, combined with reporter gene assays (RGAs) which incorporate relevant receptors capable of measuring total estrogenic or androgenic concentrations as low as 0.24 ng L1 and 6.9 ng L1 respectively. Monthly analysis showed a mean removal efficiency for estrogens of 95.2%, corresponding to an average residual concentration of 3.2 ng L1 17b-estradiol equivalent (EEQ), below the proposed lowest observable effect concentration (LOEC) of 10 ng L1. However, for one month a peak EEQ concentration of 115 ng L1 was only reduced to 18.8 ng L1. The mean androgenic activity peaked at 360 ng L1 and a removal efficiency of 92.1% left an average residual concentration of 32.3 ng L1 testosterone equivalent (TEQ). The results obtained demonstrate that this type of CWS is an efficient system for the treatment of hormones in dairy wastewater. However, additional design improvements may be required to further enhance removal efficiency of peak hormone concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2333-2343
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modelling


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