Publications by authors named "Alma Shehu"

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Chemical and biological tracking in decentralized sanitation systems: The case of artificial constructed wetlands.

J Environ Manage 2021 Dec 21;300:113799. Epub 2021 Sep 21.

Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences, Foundation of Research & Technology Hellas (ICEHT/FORTH), 10 Stadiou St., Platani, 26504, Patras, Greece.

Given that the social and economic sustainability of rural areas is highly based on the protection of natural resources, biodiversity and human health, simple-operated and cost-effective wastewater treatment systems, like artificial constructed wetlands (CWs), are widely proposed for minimizing the environmental and human impact of both water and soil pollution. Considering that the optimization of wastewater treatment processes is vital for the reduction of effluents toxic potential, there is imperative need to establish appropriate management strategies for ensuring CW performance and operational efficiency. To this end, the present study aimed to assess the operational efficiency of a horizontal free water surface CW (HFWS-CW) located in a world heritage area of Western Greece, via a twelve-month duration Toxicity Identification Evaluation (TIE)-like approach, including both chemical and biological tracking tools. Conventional chemical tracking, by means of pH, conductivity, total COD, and nitrogen-derived components, like nitrates and ammonia-nitrogen, were monthly recorded in both influents and effluents to monitor whether water quality standards are maintained, and to assess potent CW operational deficiencies occurring over time. In parallel, Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) bioassays were thoroughly applied, using freshwater algae and higher plant species (producers), crustaceans and rotifers (consumers), as well as human lymphocytes (in terms of Cytokinesis Block Micronucleus assay) to evaluate the acute and short-term toxic and hazardous potential of both influents and effluents. The integrated analysis of abiotic (physicochemical parameters) and biotic (toxic endpoints) parameters, as well as the existence of "cause-effect" interrelations among them, revealed that CW operational deficiencies, mainly based on poorly removal rates, could undermine the risk posed by treated sewage. Those findings reinforce the usage of WET testing, thus giving rise to the importance of applying appropriate water management strategies and optimization actions, like oxygen enrichment of surface and bottom of HFWS-CW basins, expansion of the available land, the enhancement of bed depth and seasonal harvesting of plants, for ensuring sewage quality, in favor of water resources protection and sustainable growth in rural areas.
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December 2021