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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Efficiency of Bark, Activated Charcoal, Foam and Sand Filters in Reducing Pollutants from Greywater

Dalahmeh Sahar Saleim Saleh, Pell Mikael, Vinnerås Björn, Hylander Lars D, Öborn Ingrid, Jönsson Håkan


Greywater is a potential resource of water that can be improved to meet the quality needed for irrigation. This study evaluated the performance of bark, activated charcoal, polyurethane foam and sand filters in removing biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), surfactants, phosphorus, nitrogen and microbial indicators from greywater during start-up and steady state. In column experiments, 0.6 m high filters (diameter 20 cm) were fed for 113 days with artificial greywater at a hydraulic loading rate of 0.032 m3 m−2 day−1 and an organic loading rate of 0.014 kg BOD5 m−2 day−1. Bark and activated charcoal efficiently reduced the concentrations of organics (BOD5), surfactants (methylene blue active substances—MBAS), total phosphorus (Tot-P) and total thermotolerant coliform numbers, while sand and foam were less efficient. Bark, activated charcoal, foam and sand reduced influent BOD5 by 98, 97, 37 and 75 %; MBAS by >99, >99, 73 and 96 %; Tot-P by 97, 91, 36 and 78 %; and total nitrogen by 19, 98, 13 and 5 %, respectively. BOD5 and MBAS were efficiently reduced directly from start-up by bark and activated charcoal, while foam needed 30 days to achieve about 50 % reduction in BOD5. Bark was the most efficient filter in reducing thermotolerant faecal coliforms (2.4 log10), while foam achieved the lowest reduction (0.5 log10). Overall, bark and activated charcoal filters appeared to be the most suitable filters for improving greywater quality to reach irrigation quality in terms of organic matter reduction. Performance of these filters under higher and fluctuating loadings and the long-term sustainability of the filter materials need further investigation


Adsorption – BOD5 reduction – Coliforms – Residence time – Irrigation – Nitrate – Organic matter

Published in

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
2012, Volume: 223, number: 7, pages: 1-15