DOI: 10.2166/bgs.2024.051 ISSN: 2617-4782

From shower to table: fate of organic micropollutants in hydroponic systems for greywater treatment and lettuce cultivation

Esther Mendoza, Josephine Vosse, Arianna Azzellino, Lúcia H. M. L. M. Santos, Sofia Semitsoglou-Tsiapou, Joaquim Comas, Gianluigi Buttiglieri
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


This study evaluated the dual functionality of hydroponic systems to grow edible crops while treating greywater (GW) containing 20 organic micropollutants (OMPs). Various conditions with differing nutrient contents were tested: raw GW, GW with struvite, and GW with commercial nutrient solution. System performance was assessed with plant growth and standard parameters and OMP removal. After 4-week exposure, all conditions produced healthy-looking plants, proving GW as a viable hydroponic growth medium. However, only the condition with commercial solution yielded plants comparable to the biotic control, indicating the necessity of nutrient supplementation. Effluent from condition with well-developed plants met the requirements of the European water reuse legislation (EU 2020/741) for scenarios B–D (food crops not in direct contact with the reclaimed water and industrial crops), and had the highest OMP removal, showcasing the effectiveness of the system for OMP treatment. Estimated calculations of OMP detected in leaves (10/20 OMP detected, predominantly positive and small) resulted in calculated potential human health risks through lettuce intake for two compounds: atenolol and epoxycarbamazepine. These findings support a continued evaluation of the behavior of other OMPs and their transformation products in water–plant systems, and their consideration in legislations on water reuse and food safety.

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