Horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands (SSFCWs) are a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) for sanitation in small communities. SSFCWs are designed to remove suspended solids and organic matter from wastewater but there is little information on the effect of the characteristics of organic matter on the removal efficiency of specific contaminants. In this paper, carbamazepine, ibuprofen and clofibric acid were continuously injected into two SSFCW microcosms fed with synthetic wastewater containing different organic matter sources: dissolved (glucose) and particulate (starch). The response curves of carbamazepine and ibuprofen were compared with that of clofibric acid, which was used as a conservative tracer. The removal efficiencies were found to be independent of the organic matter type (i.e. dissolved or particulate). Carbamazepine was removed inefficiently (5%) by bed sorption, whereas ibuprofen was removed by degradation (51%). In addition, the behaviour of the two main ibuprofen biodegradation intermediates (carboxy and hydroxy derivatives) supported that the main ibuprofen elimination pathway occurs in aerobic conditions. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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