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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Removal of pharmaceuticals, perfluoroalkyl substances and other micropollutants from wastewater using lignite, Xylit, sand, granular activated carbon (GAC) and GAC+Polonite((R)) in column tests - Role of physicochemical properties

Rostvall, Ande; Zhang, Wen; Durig, Wiebke; Renman, Gunno; Wiberg, Karin; Ahrens, Lutz; Gago-Ferrero, Pablo


This study evaluated the performance of five different sorbents (granular activated carbon (GAC), GAC + Polonite((R)) (GAC + P), Xylit, lignite and sand) for a set of 83 micropollutants (MPs) (pharmaceuticals, perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), personal care products, artificial sweeteners, parabens, pesticide, stimulants), together representing a wide range of physicochemical properties. Treatment with GAC and GAC + P provided the highest removal efficiencies, with average values above 97%. Removal rates were generally lower for Xylit (on average 74%) and lignite (on average 68%), although they proved to be highly efficient for a few individual MPs. The average removal efficiency for sand was only 47%. It was observed that the MPs behaved differently depending on their physicochemical properties. The physicochemical properties of PFASs (i.e. molecular weight, topological molecular surface area, log octanol water partition coefficient (K-ow) and distribution coefficient between octanol and water (log D)) were positively correlated to observed removal efficiency for the sorbents Xylit, lignite and sand (p <0.05), indicating a strong influence of perfluorocarbon chain length and associated hydrophobic characteristics. In contrast, for the other MPs the ratio between apolar and polar surface area (SA/SP) was positively correlated with the removal efficiency, indicating that hydrophobic adsorption may be a key feature of their sorption mechanisms. GAC showed to be the most promising filter medium to improve the removal of MPs in on-site sewage treatment facilities. However, more studies are needed to evaluate the removal of MPs in field trials. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Published in

Water Research
2018, Volume: 137, pages: 97-106