Anaerobic membrane bioreactors for pharmaceutical-laden wastewater treatment: A critical review

Pharmaceuticals are a diverse group of chemical compounds widely used for prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in both humans and animals. Pharmaceuticals, either in their original or metabolite form, find way into the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) from different sources. Recently, anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR) has received significant research attention for the treatment of pharmaceuticals in various wastewater streams. This review critically examines the behaviour and removal of a wide array of pharmaceuticals in AnMBR with primary focus on their removal efficiencies and mechanisms, critical influencing factors, and the microbial community structures. Subsequently, the inhibitory effects of pharmaceuticals on the performance of AnMBR and membrane fouling are critically discussed. Furthermore, the imperative role of membrane biofouling layer and its components in pharmaceuticals removal is highlighted. Finally, recent advancements in AnMBR configurations for membrane fouling control and enhanced pharmaceuticals removal are systemically discussed.

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