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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Bioremediation of emerging micropollutants in irrigation water. The alternative of microalgae-based treatments

Vassalle, Lucas; Sunyer-Caldu, Adria; Uggetti, Enrica; Diez-Montero, Ruben; Diaz-Cruz, M. Silvia; Garcia, Joan; Garcia-Galan, M. Jesus


The present study evaluated the efficiency of a semi-closed horizontal tubular photobioreactor (PBR) at demonstrative scale to remove a total of 35 target compounds, including benzotriazoles, benzophenones, antibiotics and different pharmaceuticals present in irrigation water in a peri-urban rural area. This water run through an open channel and was a mixture of reclaimed wastewater from a nearby wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and run-off from the different agricultural fields in the area. Most of the compounds studied are usually not fully eliminated during conventional wastewater treatment, which justifies the need to investigate alternative treatment strategies. A total of 21 of these compounds were detected in the irrigation water. Benzotriazoles were only partially removed after the micmalgae treatment, with elimination rates similar to those of conventional WWTPs. The UV filter benzophenone-3 (BP3) showed variable removals, ranging from no elimination to 51%, whereas 4-methylbenzilidenecamphor (4MBC) was completely eliminated. Regarding pharmaceuticals, average removals were higher, in the range of 60-100%, with the exception of the antibiotics sulfamethoxazole (46%) and sulfapyridine, which was not removed. Despite the low biomass productivity of the PBR, parameters such as the size of the reactors, the specific mixed cultures developed and the high temperatures and pH in the closed system may account for the overall good results, The efficiency and sustainability of these systems make them a solid, feasible treatment choice.


Organic micropollutants; Pharmaceuticals; Sunscreens; Metabolites; Green treatment; Photobioreactors

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2020, Volume: 274, article number: 111081

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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