Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 October 2024 | Viewed by 8856

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Laboratory of Separation and Reaction Engineering-Laboratory of Catalysis and Materials (LSRE-LCM), Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
Interests: water treatment; advanced oxidation processes; membrane technology; ozonation; catalysis
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Micropollutants have the capacity to disturb physiological processes, resulting in unfavorable neurological, immune, developmental and reproductive effects on both humans and wildlife. These substances are frequently detected in aquatic ecosystems and encompass active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), personal care products (PCPs), pesticides and microplastics. Understanding the sources, transport, and fate of micropollutants in the environment is crucial for developing effective strategies to mitigate their impacts. In natural waters exposed to sunlight (surface waters), solar-radiation-mediated degradation constitutes an important natural depuration process of micropollutants, especially those resistant to biological degradation. However, these natural processes might not be enough to remove such substances, and complementary remediation strategies must be explored. These strategies can include advanced wastewater treatment technologies, the development of best practices in agriculture and industry to reduce pollutant inputs, and policy measures to limit the release of micropollutants. This Special Issue seeks research papers dealing with advances in micropollutant detection, environmental fate and removal in waters, to provide a well-rounded and complete understanding of the topic.

Dr. Cátia Alexandra Leça Graça
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water quality monitoring
  • contaminant identification
  • wastewater management
  • environmental impact
  • discharge regulations
  • pollution control
  • water treatment
  • environmental destination
  • remediation technologies
  • integrated water management

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 3779 KiB  
Article
Can Lagoons Serve as a Quaternary Treatment for Micropollutants in Wastewater Treatment Plants? Recent Implications for Compliance with the New Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive
by Lissette Díaz-Gamboa, Sofía Martínez-López, Luis Miguel Ayuso-García, Agustín Lahora and Isabel Martínez-Alcalá
Environments 2024, 11(6), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11060105 - 22 May 2024
Viewed by 696
Abstract
This study explores the potential of storage lagoons as a quaternary treatment step in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), focusing on compliance with the recent European Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), which mandates an 80% reduction in specific micropollutants. While conventional treatments effectively remove [...] Read more.
This study explores the potential of storage lagoons as a quaternary treatment step in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), focusing on compliance with the recent European Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD), which mandates an 80% reduction in specific micropollutants. While conventional treatments effectively remove residual nutrients and solids, the potential of storage lagoons as an additional treatment is not fully defined. This research aims to address this gap by assessing the efficacy of storage lagoons in refining the effluent quality at the Cabezo Beaza WWTP, considering recent UWWTD requirements. We conduct a comprehensive assessment of the water quality parameters and micropollutants, before and after the storage lagoon stage, at the Cabezo Beaza WWTP. The results indicate that this strategy of prolonged storage in lagoons manages to meet the reduction objectives established by the Directive, reaching elimination percentages greater than 80% for the majority of the analyzed micropollutants. Our findings suggest that lagoons significantly improve water quality and reduce contaminants beyond conventional treatments, offering environmental and economic benefits. This paper discusses the mechanisms behind these improvements, such as natural sedimentation, microbial activity, and potential phytoremediation. This study contributes to the research on advanced wastewater treatment and supports the integration of storage lagoons as a viable quaternary treatment solution that meets the UWWTD standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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13 pages, 2275 KiB  
Article
Removal of Residual Chlorine from Stormwater Using Low-Cost Adsorbents and Phytoremediation
by Marina Valentukeviciene, Ieva Andriulaityte, Agnieszka Karczmarczyk and Ramune Zurauskiene
Environments 2024, 11(5), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050101 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 1144
Abstract
In recent decades, the pollution of water with micropollutants has become an increasing environmental concern. Since 2019, increased stormwater pollution from chlorine-based disinfectants has been recorded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runoff from disinfected areas and the residual chlorine present in stormwater are [...] Read more.
In recent decades, the pollution of water with micropollutants has become an increasing environmental concern. Since 2019, increased stormwater pollution from chlorine-based disinfectants has been recorded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runoff from disinfected areas and the residual chlorine present in stormwater are transported to surface water bodies, posing a risk to aquatic flora and fauna. The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate the efficiency of different low-cost and recyclable filter materials in removing residual chlorine, and (2) to test plants’ ability to reduce residual chlorine concentrations through phytoremediation. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory (column and batch) and in the field (raised garden bed) to assess the efficiency of various filter materials (peat, wood chips, sawdust and the lightweight aggregates) in retaining residual chlorine to be implemented in green infrastructure. The best retainers of chlorine were sawdust (96%) and the LWA Leca (76%). No harmful effects of residual chlorine (changes in growth, color, leaf size, etc.) on plants (Tagetes patula or Pisum savitum) were observed and the residual chlorine in the leachate samples was below the equipment’s detection limit. Our research results will contribute to future studies aiming to remove various micropollutants from stormwater using remediation technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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13 pages, 4870 KiB  
Article
A Droplet-Based Microfluidic Impedance Flow Cytometer for Detection of Micropollutants in Water
by Mohammadreza Aghel, Somayeh Fardindoost, Nishat Tasnim and Mina Hoorfar
Environments 2024, 11(5), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050096 - 6 May 2024
Viewed by 2282
Abstract
Microplastics as micropollutants are widely spread in aquatic areas that can have a toxic effect on aquatic life. To reduce the potential risk they pose, it is essential to detect the microplastics and the source of the contamination of the environment. Here, we [...] Read more.
Microplastics as micropollutants are widely spread in aquatic areas that can have a toxic effect on aquatic life. To reduce the potential risk they pose, it is essential to detect the microplastics and the source of the contamination of the environment. Here, we designed and developed a droplet-based microfluidic impedance flow cytometer for in situ detection of microplastics in water. Impedance spectroscopy enables the direct measurement of the electrical features of microplastics as they move in water, allowing for sizing and identification of concentration. To show the feasibility of the developed method, pure and functionalized polystyrene beads ranging from 500 nm to 6 μm in four size groups and different concentrations were used. Focusing on three different frequencies (4.4 MHz, 11 MHz, and 22.5 MHz), the changes in the signal phase at frequencies of 4.4 MHz and 11 MHz are a strong indicator of microplastic presence. In addition, the functionalized microplastics showed different magnitudes of the measured signal phase than the pure ones. A k-nearest neighbors classification model demonstrated our developed system’s impressive 97.4% sensitivity in accurately identifying microplastics based on concentration. The equivalent circuit model revealed that the double-layer capacity of water droplets is significantly impacted by the presence of the microplastics. Our findings show the potential of droplet-based microfluidic impedance flow cytometry as a practical method for detecting microplastics in water. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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13 pages, 2481 KiB  
Article
Detection and Screening of Organic Contaminants in A Riverine System of Georgia Using Non-Targeted Analysis
by Gayatri Basapuram, Srimanti Duttagupta and Avishek Dutta
Environments 2024, 11(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11050089 - 26 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1007
Abstract
Numerous organic chemicals exist within aquatic environments, yet effectively screening and prioritizing them is a huge challenge. This study provides a comprehensive investigation into the ecological dynamics of the North Oconee River within Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, with a specific focus on the distribution [...] Read more.
Numerous organic chemicals exist within aquatic environments, yet effectively screening and prioritizing them is a huge challenge. This study provides a comprehensive investigation into the ecological dynamics of the North Oconee River within Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, with a specific focus on the distribution of 33 identified compounds, including a prominent pesticide. The research, conducted in the riverine ecosystems proximal to the Firefly trail, employs advanced analytical techniques to elucidate potential contamination sources arising from agricultural and urban runoff. Intriguingly, the study reveals North Oconee River near the Firefly Trail as a notable site for heightened pesticide contamination, warranting a meticulous exploration of its origins. Furthermore, the investigation unveils the intricate microbial degradation processes of malathion within the North Oconee River, elucidating the pivotal role played by microbial activity in river water. The detection of degradant byproducts prompts the considerations of bioavailability and toxicity, associating potential implications for the river’s overall ecological health. Ongoing research endeavors to precisely quantify environmental risks and unravel indigenous microbial degradation pathways, presenting pivotal contributions to the scientific community’s understanding of complex riverine ecosystems. This research serves as a foundational piece in informing sustainable environmental management practices and emphasizes the urgency of comprehensive stewardship in safeguarding aquatic ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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30 pages, 7845 KiB  
Article
Linking Clusters of Micropollutants in Surface Water to Emission Sources, Environmental Conditions, and Substance Properties
by Tessa E. Pronk, Elvio D. Amato, Stefan A. E. Kools and Thomas L. Ter Laak
Environments 2024, 11(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11030046 - 28 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1559
Abstract
Water quality monitoring programs yield a wealth of data. It is often unclear why a certain substance occurs in higher concentrations at a certain location or time. In this study, substances were considered in clusters with co-varying concentrations rather than in isolation. A [...] Read more.
Water quality monitoring programs yield a wealth of data. It is often unclear why a certain substance occurs in higher concentrations at a certain location or time. In this study, substances were considered in clusters with co-varying concentrations rather than in isolation. A total of 196 substance clusters at 19 monitoring sites in the rivers Rhine and Meuse were identified. A total of nine clusters were found repeatedly with a similar composition at different monitoring sites. Several environmental conditions and substance properties could be linked to clusters. In addition, overlap with reference substance lists was determined. These lists group multiple substances according to emission sources, substance types, or type of use. The reference substance lists revealed that Rhine and Meuse are similarly affected. The nine ‘repeating clusters’ were analyzed in more detail to identify drivers. For instance, a repeating cluster with herbicides was specifically linked to high temperatures and a high number of hours in the sun per day, e.g., summer conditions. A cluster containing polychlorinated biphenyls, identified as persistent and with a high tendency to bind organic matter, was linked to high river discharge and attributed to a potential release from sediment resuspension. Not all substances could be clustered, because their concentration did not structurally vary in the same way as other substances. The presented explorative cluster analyses, along with the obtained relations with substance properties, local environmental conditions, and reference substance lists, may facilitate the reconstruction of the processes that lead to the observed variation in concentrations. This knowledge can subsequently be used by water managers to improve water quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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32 pages, 9751 KiB  
Article
Stream Chemistry and Forest Recovery Assessment and Prediction Modeling in Coal-Mine-Affected Watersheds in Kentucky, USA
by Oguz Sariyildiz, Buddhi R. Gyawali, George F. Antonious, Kenneth Semmens, Demetrio Zourarakis and Maya P. Bhatt
Environments 2024, 11(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments11030040 - 21 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1506
Abstract
Kentucky is one of the largest coal-producing states; surface coal mining has led to changes in natural land cover, soil loss, and water quality. This study explored relationships between actively mined and reclaimed areas, vegetation change, and water quality parameters. The study site [...] Read more.
Kentucky is one of the largest coal-producing states; surface coal mining has led to changes in natural land cover, soil loss, and water quality. This study explored relationships between actively mined and reclaimed areas, vegetation change, and water quality parameters. The study site evaluated 58 watersheds with Landsat-derived variables (reclamation age and percentage of mining, reclaimed forest, and reclaimed woods) as well as topographic variables (such as elevation, slope, drainage density, and infiltration). Water samples were collected in spring (n = 9), summer (n = 14), and fall (n = 58) 2017 to study changes in water quality variables (SO42−, alkalinity, conductivity, Ca2+, Mg2+, Mn2+, Al3+, and Fe2+, Fe3+) in response to changes in land cover. Pearson correlation analyses indicated that conductivity has strong to very strong relationships with water quality variables related to coal mining (except Al3+, Fe2+, Fe3+, Mn2+, elevation, slope, and drainage density) and land cover variables. In addition, separate regression analyses were performed, with conductivity values based on samples collected in the fall. First, conductivity responses to mining percentage, reclamation age and topographic variables were examined (adjusted R2 = 0.818, p < 0.01). Next, vegetation cover change parameters were added to the same model, which yielded slightly improved R2 (adjusted R2 = 0.826, p < 0.01). Finally, reclamation age and mining percentages were used to explain the quantity of reclaimed forested areas as a percentage of watersheds. The model was significant (p < 0.01), with an adjusted R2 value of 0.641. Results suggest that the quantity (area as a percentage) of reclaimed forests may be a predictor of the mining percentage and reclamation age. This study indicated that conductivity is a predictable water quality indicator that is highly associated with Coal-Mine-Related Stream Chemistry in areas where agriculture and urban development are limited. Water quality is not suitable for various purposes due to the presence of contaminants, especially in mined sites. These findings may help the scientific community and key state and federal agencies improve their understanding of water quality attributes in watersheds affected by coal mining, as well as refine land reclamation practices more effectively while such practices are in action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research on Micropollutants in Water)
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