State Water Resources Research Institute Program

>Project ID: 2009PA93B
Title: An Emerging Technology for Emerging Contaminants: Biocatalysis of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Wastewater for Beneficial Reuse
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 5
Focus Categories: Toxic Substances, Treatment, Wastewater
Keywords: endocrine disruptors, wastewater, water reuse, fungi, mycelia, mycoremediation, biocatalysis
Principal Investigator: Brennan, Rachel A.
Federal Funds: $ 17,500
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 35,000
Abstract: As beneficial water reuse becomes a common practice throughout the world, concern over the effects of residual contaminants on aquatic ecosystems and human health is escalating. Found in everyday commercial items like plasticizers, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and flame retardants, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been shown to disrupt hormone function in exposed organisms, causing adverse physiological problems. Typically, these contaminants are not completely removed during conventional wastewater treatment, and are discharged into receiving waters, where they can potentially harm ecosystems and reenter potable water supplies. Although some physical- and chemical-treatment methods exist for treating EDCs in wastewater, they are expensive and unattainable for the majority of the world. An inexpensive, sustainable treatment method is sorely needed for removing residual contaminants from wastewater effluent.

This research will test the effectiveness of enzymatic biocatalysis for the reduction of EDCs in wastewater effluent using fungal mycelia. The fungi Trametes versicolor and Pleurotus ostreatus have been chosen for this study based on their previously documented ability to degrade multiple environmental contaminants at high rates. The chemicals to be evaluated include 17Β-estradiol (a steroid estrogen), bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (a plasticizer), atrazine (a herbicide), and N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) (an insecticide). It is theorized that with the application of fungal mycelia to secondary wastewater treatment plant effluent, EDCs will be removed from solution. To fully test this hypothesis, a series of batch tests and continuous-flow bioreactor experiments will be conducted. Microcosm tests will be used in a standard factorial design to rapidly assess the ability of fungal mycelia to achieve remediation of different classes of EDCs under different conditions. After optimizing treatment conditions in batch mode, bioreactor studies will be conducted to quantify EDC removal rates, and confirm suitable hydraulic residence times when suspended or immobilized mycelia are used for EDC treatment. If successful, this work would be the first to utilize fungi-driven biocatalysis for the remediation of EDCs in wastewater, which could provide a more sustainable, cost-efficient alternative over traditional removal processes.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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