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Water Science & Technology Vol 50 No 2 pp 215–220 © IWA Publishing 2004

The role of endocrine disrupters in water recycling: risk or mania?

L.D. Nghiem*, J. McCutcheon**, A.I. Schäfer*** and M. Elimelech****

*Environmental Engineering Program, Yale University, P.O. Box 208286, New Haven, CT 06520-8286, USA. Environmental Engineering, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
**Environmental Engineering Program, Yale University, P.O. Box 208286, New Haven, CT 06520-8286, USA
***Environmental Engineering, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia. Corresponding author: (E-mail: A.Schaefer@uow.edu.au)
****Environmental Engineering Program, Yale University, P.O. Box 208286, New Haven, CT 06520-8286, USA


ABSTRACT
The widespread occurrence of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as steroid hormones, in secondary wastewater effluents has become a major concern in the water recycling practice. This paper investigates the risk of steroid hormone breakthrough during nanofiltration membrane filtration in water recycling applications. The results indicate a dynamic equilibrium between adsorption and desorption of steroid hormone with regard to the membrane. This equilibrium can be pH dependent and there is a possibility for release of steroid hormones at high pH during membrane cleaning procedures or erratic pH variations. Increase in water recovery can severely increase the hormone breakthrough concentration. The results also indicate a possibility of accumulation of steroid hormones in the NF membrane, followed by subsequent release.

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