Biological effects of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents were investigated in Baltic mussels (Mytilus trossulus) caged for one month 800 m and 1100 m from the WWTP discharge site and at a reference site 4 km away.
Significant antioxidant, genotoxic and lysosomal responses were observed close to the point of the WWTP discharge. Passive samplers (POCIS) attached to the cages indicated markedly higher water concentrations of various pharmaceuticals at the two most impacted sites. Modeling the dispersal of a hypothetical passive tracer compound from the WWTP discharge site revealed differing frequencies and timing of the exposure periods at different caging sites.
The study demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of the mussel caging approach in combination with passive samplers and the application of passive tracer modeling to examine the true exposure patterns at point source sites such as WWTP pipe discharges in the Baltic Sea.