Biocides in urban wastewater treatment plant influent at dry and wet weather: Concentrations, mass flows and possible sources.

Ulla E Bollmann, Camilla Tang, Eva Eriksson, Karin Jönsson, Jes Vollertsen, Kai Bester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, exterior thermal insulation systems became more and more important leading to an increasing amount of houses equipped with biocide-containing organic façade coatings or fungicide treated wood. It is known that these biocides, e.g. terbutryn, carbendazim, and diuron, as well as wood preservatives as propiconazole, leach out of the material through contact with wind driven rain. Hence, they are present in combined sewage during rain events in concentrations up to several hundred ng L(-1). The present study focused on the occurrence of these biocides in five wastewater treatment plants in Denmark and Sweden during dry and wet weather. It was discovered, that biocides are detectable not only during wet weather but also during dry weather when leaching from façade coatings can be excluded as source. In most cases, the concentrations during dry weather were in the same range as during wet weather (up to 100 ng L(-1)); however, for propiconazole noteworthy high concentrations were detected in one catchment (4.5 μg L(-1)). Time resolved sampling (12 × 2 h) enabled assessments about possible sources. The highest mass loads during wet weather were detected when the rain was heaviest (e.g. up to 116 mg h(-1) carbendazim or 73 mg h(-1) mecoprop) supporting the hypothesis that the biocides were washed off by wind driven rain. Contrary, the biocide emissions during dry weather were rather related to household activities than with emissions from buildings, i.e., emissions were highest during morning and evening hours (up to 50 mg h(-1)). Emissions during night were significantly lower than during daytime. Only for propiconazole a different emission behaviour during dry weather was observed: the mass load peaked in the late afternoon (3 g h(-1)) and declined slowly afterwards. Most likely this emission was caused by a point source, possibly from inappropriate cleaning of spray equipment for agriculture or gardening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-74
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Water Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering


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