The emission of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and ammonia (NH3) by aeration processes at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with and without odor control units was examined. Local concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, and NH3 at the aeration basins were within urban ranges. Emission fluxes of NH3 and PM2.5 for a medium-sized WWTP were determined to be 136 g day-1 and 43 g day-1, respectively, which are not substantial emission fluxes for urban environments. Odor control treatment using a granulated activated carbon bed reduced aerosol and NH3 emissions substantially. Detection of sterols, in particular the fecal sterol campesterol, in the PM clearly demonstrates aerosolization of wastewater components in the aeration process. The presence of campesterol in PM2.5 at a remote fenceline location in a WWTP facility illustrates that wastewater components are aerosolized in the fine PM fraction and transported beyond the facilities.Wastewater treatment plants are potential emission sources of particulate matter and gases. This study characterized particulate matter emissions from aeration basins and quantified emissions fluxes of particulate matter and NH3. While fine and coarse particles as well as NH3 are being emitted, the overall emissions are small compared to other urban sources. However, fecal steroid presence in particles at the fence of a treatment plant demonstrates that wastewater material is getting aerosolized and transported beyond the facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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