Removal of fluoxetine and its effects in the performance of an aerobic granular sludge sequential batch reactor

Irina S. Moreira, Catarina L. Amorim, Ana R. Ribeiro, Raquel B. R. Mesquita, António O. S. S. Rangel, Mark C. M. van Loosdrecht, Maria E. Tiritan, Paula M. L. Castro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Fluoxetine (FLX) is a chiral fluorinated pharmaceutical mainly indicated for treatment of depression and is one of the most distributed drugs. There is a clear evidence of environmental contamination with this drug. Aerobic granular sludge sequencing batch reactors constitute a promising technology for wastewater treatment; however the removal of carbon and nutrients can be affected by micropollutants. In this study, the fate and effect of FLX on reactor performance and on microbial population were investigated. FLX adsorption/desorption to the aerobic granules was observed. FLX shock loads (≤4. μM) did not show a significant effect on the COD removal. Ammonium removal efficiency decreased in the beginning of first shock load, but after 20 days, ammonia oxidizing bacteria became adapted. The nitrite concentration in the effluent was practically null indicating that nitrite oxidizing bacteria was not inhibited, whereas, nitrate was accumulated in the effluent, indicating that denitrification was affected. Phosphate removal was affected at the beginning showing a gradual adaptation, and the effluent concentration was <0.04. mM after 70 days. A shift in microbial community occurred probably due to FLX exposure, which induced adaptation/restructuration of the microbial population. This contributed to the robustness of the reactor, which was able to adapt to the FLX load.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2015


  • Aerobic granular sludge (AGS)
  • Fluoxetine
  • Microbial community
  • Removal efficiency
  • Sequential batch reactor (SBR)


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