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Characterization, Transformation, and Bioavailability of Dissolved Organic Nitrogen in Biofilters Treating Domestic Onsite Wastewater

  • Siwei Chen
    Siwei Chen
    Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    More by Siwei Chen
  • Mian Wang
    Mian Wang
    Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    More by Mian Wang
  • Caitlin Asato
    Caitlin Asato
    New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
  • , and 
  • Xinwei Mao*
    Xinwei Mao
    Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, United States
    *Email: [email protected]
    More by Xinwei Mao
Cite this: ACS EST Water 2022, 2, 9, 1575–1583
Publication Date (Web):August 18, 2022
https://doi.org/10.1021/acsestwater.2c00228
Copyright © 2022 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    This study investigated the transformation, bioavailability, and seasonal changes of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) in nitrogen removing biofilters (NRBs) treating domestic onsite wastewater. The results demonstrated that NRBs were able to remove 92.6–94.3% DON from septic tank effluent with low effluent DON concentrations (0–5.8 mg N L–1), comparable to the levels detected in the tertiary municipal wastewater treatment plant. Both hydrophilic and hydrophobic DON were efficiently removed by the sand filters, while additional hydrophilic DON (0.8–1.8 mg N L–1) was produced in the lignocellulose/sand layer due to soluble microbial product formation. Seasonal change (i.e., temperature variation) did not impact the effluent DON composition or its removal efficiency by NRBs, while higher concentrations of hydrophilic DON (1.7–2.5 mg N L–1) were detected in the final effluent during the summer months (16.4–22.9 °C). DON in the NRB effluent had a higher potential to stimulate algal growth than other nitrogen forms (NH4+ and NOx), confirmed by higher chlorophyll-a concentrations observed in the bioassay tests. The results suggest the DON levels in the final effluent of an onsite wastewater treatment system shall also be considered in onsite wastewater quality management and the effluent discharge regulations.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsestwater.2c00228.

    • Quantitative PCR protocols; calculation details for SMP-based DON and phytoplankton production rate; design parameters for NRBs; synthetic DIN solution formula; chemical composition of the water sample utilized in the bioassay experiment; concentration of nitrogen species in NRBs; the abundance of nitrifying functional genes in the bioassay; sampling location of two NRBs; scheme of wastewater effluent fractionation with XAD-8 resin; configuration for the three-bioassay experimental setup and seasonal variation of the effluent DON/TN ratio in two NRBs (PDF)

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