On the Importance of Sanitary Sewer Overflow on the Total Discharge of Microplastics from Sewage Water

The paper provides an investigation and understanding of the significance of various wastewater flows on microplastics retainment and emission to the environment. WWTPs and sewer overflows as an important pathway of microplastics to the environment are assessed by considering the removal of microplastics in WWTPs with different treatment processes and several sewer overflow types and their contribution to microplastic loads to recipients. On the example of the Baltic Sea basin, presented results indicate a considerable discharge of microplastic from WWTPs despite the relatively good overall removal efficiency. Results show that the discharge of microplastics from sewer overflows can be in the same magnitude as from treated wastewater although the total flow is much lower than that of treated wastewater. Sewer overflow events frequently occur and are expected to increase due to climate change and urbanization, unless infrastructure is adapted. At the same time, sewer overflows are often neglected in conventional wastewater handling.

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