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Transformation of potentially persistent and mobile organic micropollutants in column experiments

Zeeshan, Muhammad; Schumann, Pia; Pabst, Silke; Ruhl, Aki Sebastian

The occurrence of potentially persistent and mobile (PM) organic micropollutants (OMP) in the aquatic environment is recognized as a severe threat to water resources and drinking water suppliers. The current study investigated long-term fate (persistency and bio-transformation) of several emerging contaminants in a simulated bank filtration (BF) for the first time. In parallel, four sand column systems were operated with groundwater and continuously spiked with an average concentration of 1 μg/L for 24 OMP. Each column system consisted of two sand columns connected in series. Presumably, biological activities in the first column were higher than in the second column, as dissolved oxygen utilization, dissolved organic matter (DOM) and UV absorbance at 254 nm (UV254) reduction rates were high in the first column. This study revealed that 9 out of 24 OMP were persistent and mobile throughout the study under oxic conditions and within a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 12 days. However, 2 (out of 9) OMP were persistent but showed sorption behavior. 15 (out of 24) OMP displayed bio-transformation, 4 were eliminated entirely within 4.5 days of HRT. Others showed constant or improved degradation with the adaptation (or operation) time. Improved degradation with adaption was high in the bioactive sand columns. However, 8 OMP showed improved elimination at high HRT, even in low biologically active columns. In addition, no significant effect of the DOM on the eliminations of OMP was found except for 4-hydroxy-1-(2-hydroxyethyl)-2,2,6,6,-tetramethylpiperidine (HHTMP), 2-methyl-2-propene-1-sulfonic acid (MPSA) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX). The eliminations of HHTMP (Pearson's r > 0.80, p < 0.05), MPSA (Pearson's r > 0.70) and SMX (Pearson's r > 0.80) correlated with the removals of humic substances in the sand columns. Overall, adaptation time and HRT play a crucial role in the elimination of emerging OMP through BF, yet at the same time several OMP exhibit persistent behavior.
Published in: Heliyon, 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e15822, Elsevier