Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

AWMC Seminar Program: How and why are organic micropollutants biotransformed?

How and why are organic micropollutants biotransformed?

Abstract: A wide number of organic micropollutants (OMPs) arrive to sewage treatment plants (STPs), which were not designed to deal with these contaminants. Consequently, water and sludge effluents of STPs are considered important sources of OMPs release into the environment as many compounds are also partially removed or even hardly removed (Carballa et al 2004). The effect of operational parameters such as solid and hydraulic retention time, temperature and organic loading rate is very much depending on the structure of OMPs (Suarez et al, 2008). The controversial results reported into literature reveal a poor understanding of the mechanisms and factors behind OMPs biotransformations. In the seminar, enzymatic co-metabolism will be considered as a major mechanism that could explain better the fate of the different OMS on STPs (Fernandez-Fontaina et al 2014, Gonzalez-Gil et al 2017). Also, some hypothesis about why biotransformations are not complete will be analysed by a modelling approach.


  • Carballa et al (2004). Behavior of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and hormones in a sewage treatment plant. Water Research 38, 2918-2926
  • Suarez et al (2008). How are pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) removed from urban wastewaters? Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology 7(2), 125-138.
  • Fernandez-Fontaina et al, (2014). Modelling cometabolic biotransformation of organic micropollutants in nitrifying reactors. Water Research 65, 371-383
  • Gonzalez-Gil et al (2017). Cometabolic Enzymatic Transformation of organic Micropollutants under methanogenic conditions. Environmental Science and Technology 51, 2963-2971

Bio: Juan M. Lema ( is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Fellow of the International Water Association (IWA). Supervisor of 51 PhD Thesis, author of more than 350 papers and book chapters (H index: 50, Scopus) and 11 patents (3 European). Editor of the book: Innovative Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Technologies published by IWA. His current research interests include: Removal of micropollutants from wastewater; Anaerobic co-digestion; Development of innovative wastewater treatment plants; Biorefinery (selective production of VFA, bioplastics..). 36 research projects founded by European Union (16), Spanish Commission of Science and Technology (15) and Galician Regional Government (5). He has been the coordinator of the COST Action:”Conceiving Wastewater treatment in 2020” (Water 2020). Coordinator of the Spanish network Novedar_Consolider. 25 relevant research projects with companies in the areas of treatment of industrial and municipal wastewater.

More info:

Researcher ID: F-6718-2016;

Orcid Code: 0000000156162584;

Google academics: Juan M. Lema

Juan M. Lema is spending a sabbatical period at AWMC until 17 March

Event Details
Date & Time: 
Friday, 09 March 2018
9am - 10am
Venue: AIBN Building 75, Level 1 Seminar Room

Event Contact: