Conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are designed to remove mainly the organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus compounds and suspended solids from wastewater but are not capable of removing chemicals of human origin, such as pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs). The presence of PPCPs in wastewater has environmental effects on the water bodies receiving the WWTP effluents and renders the effluent as unsuitable as a nonconventional water source. Considering PPCPs as non-desirable outputs, the shadow prices methodology has been implemented using the output distance function to measure the environmental benefits of removing five PPCPs (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, carbamazepine and trimethoprim) from WWTP effluents discharged to three different ecosystems (wetland, river and sea). Acetaminophen and ibuprofen show the highest shadow prices of the sample for wetland areas. Their values are 128.2 and 11.0 €/mg respectively. These results represent a proxy in monetary terms of the environmental benefit achieved from avoiding the discharge of these PPCPs in wetlands. These results suggest which PPCPs are urgent to remove from wastewater and which ecosystems are most vulnerable to their presence. The findings of this study will be useful for the plant managers in order to make decisions about prioritization in the removal of different pollutants.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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