Special Issue "Nature-Based Solutions for the Mitigation of Persistent and Emerging Contaminants"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Wastewater Treatment and Reuse".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021) | Viewed by 7732

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pedro N. Carvalho
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Interests: water treatment technology; phytotechnology; constructed wetlands; biofilm reactors; emerging contaminants; water reuse
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Víctor Matamoros
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, The Spanish National Research Council, Spain
Interests: wetlands; biodegradation; emerging contaminants; microalgae; groundwater; reclaimed water; agriculture; wastewater treatment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nature-based solutions have been gaining attention in the past several years. The blue-green technology being developed and implemented is often not new (e.g., natural and constructed wetlands, buffer strips, green walls, green roofs, or microalgae-based treatment), but the diversification of their applications and the wider interest in using them in urban areas has been boosting the recent research. We are increasing their use for climate adaptation (e.g., cloudburst management) and for tackling persistent (e.g., pesticides) and/or new contaminants (e.g., trace organic compounds, nanoparticles, microplastics, or antibiotic resistance).

This Special Issue seeks to highlight novel approaches that, by utilizing state-of-the-art analytical techniques, or new monitoring or modeling tools, aim to clarify the role of nature-based solutions for the mitigation of persistent and emerging contaminants. Studies in the different water domains (i.e., process water, wastewater, stormwater, rainwater, groundwater) are welcome, as well as studies addressing the wide range of different emerging contaminants.

Contributions are not limited to but should provide new insights into process understanding on novel compounds or transformation products, the link between microbial degradation and pollutant degradation, new technology design, or operational management. We aim to highlight the role that nature-based solutions can have towards the sustainable use and treatment of water.

Dr. Pedro N. Carvalho
Dr. Víctor Matamoros
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2200 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

  • trace organic micropollutants
  • contaminants of emerging concern
  • microplastics
  • nanoparticles
  • antibiotic resistance
  • wetlands
  • buffer strips
  • biofilters
  • algae systems
  • wastewater
  • stormwater
  • biodegradation processes
  • microbial communities

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
HCH Removal in a Biochar-Amended Biofilter
Water 2021, 13(23), 3396; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233396 - 01 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 863
Abstract
This study evaluated the efficiency of two biofilter systems, with and without biochar chambers installed, at degrading and removing HCH and its isomers in natural drainage water. The biochar biofilter proved to be 96% efficient at cleaning HCH and its transformation products from [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the efficiency of two biofilter systems, with and without biochar chambers installed, at degrading and removing HCH and its isomers in natural drainage water. The biochar biofilter proved to be 96% efficient at cleaning HCH and its transformation products from drainage water, a significant improvement over classic biofilter that remove, on average, 68% of HCH. Although iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, such as Gallionella and Sulfuricurvum, were dominant in the biochar bed outflows, they were absent in sediments, which were rich in Simplicispira, Rhodoluna, Rhodoferax, and Flavobacterium. The presence of functional genes involved in the biodegradation of HCH isomers and their byproducts was confirmed in both systems. The high effectiveness of the biochar biofilter displayed in this study should further encourage the use of biochar in water treatment solutions, e.g., for temporary water purification installations during the construction of other long-term wastewater treatment technologies, or even as final solutions at contaminated sites. Full article
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Article
Biomat Resilience to Desiccation and Flooding Within a Shallow, Unit Process Open Water Engineered Wetland
Water 2021, 13(6), 815; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060815 - 16 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1131
Abstract
Projections of increased hydrological extremes due to climate change heighten the need to understand and improve the resilience of our water infrastructure. While constructed natural treatment analogs, such as raingardens, wetlands, and aquifer recharge, hold intuitive promise for variable flows, the impacts of [...] Read more.
Projections of increased hydrological extremes due to climate change heighten the need to understand and improve the resilience of our water infrastructure. While constructed natural treatment analogs, such as raingardens, wetlands, and aquifer recharge, hold intuitive promise for variable flows, the impacts of disruption on water treatment processes and outcomes are not well understood and limit widespread adoption. To this end, we studied the impact of desiccation and flooding extremes on demonstration-scale shallow, unit process open water (UPOW) wetlands designed for water treatment. System resilience was evaluated as a function of physical characteristics, nitrate removal, photosynthetic activity, and microbial ecology. Rehydrated biomat that had been naturally desiccated re-established nitrate removal consistent with undisrupted biomat in less than a week; however, a pulse of organic carbon and nitrogen accompanied the initial rehydration phase. Conversely, sediment intrusion due to flooding had a negative impact on the biomat’s photosynthetic activity and decreased nitrate attenuation rates by nearly 50%. Based upon past mechanistic inferences, attenuation potential for trace organics is anticipated to follow similar trends as nitrate removal. While the microbial community was significantly altered in both extremes, our results collectively suggest that UPOW wetlands have potential for seasonal or intermittent use due to their promise of rapid re-establishment after rehydration. Flooding extremes and associated sediment intrusion provide a greater barrier to system resilience indicating a need for proactive designs to prevent this outcome; however, residual treatment potential after disruption could provide operators with time to triage and manage the system should a flood occur again. Full article
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Article
Influences of Dimethyl Phthalate on Bacterial Community and Enzyme Activity in Vertical Flow Constructed Wetland
Water 2021, 13(6), 788; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060788 - 14 Mar 2021
Viewed by 806
Abstract
Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), belonging to the family of Phthalate esters (PAEs), is a plasticizer and has been widely used in the world for many years. Nowadays, it has become a ubiquitous environmental pollutant and is listed as an environmental priority pollutant by China’s [...] Read more.
Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), belonging to the family of Phthalate esters (PAEs), is a plasticizer and has been widely used in the world for many years. Nowadays, it has become a ubiquitous environmental pollutant and is listed as an environmental priority pollutant by China’s Environmental Monitoring Center. The purpose of this study is to estimate the responses of the bacterial community and enzyme activity to DMP contamination in three vertical flow constructed wetlands (VFCW), namely the constructed wetland A (planted with Pennisetum sinese Roxb), constructed wetland B (planted with Pennisetum purpureum Schum.), and constructed wetland C (unplanted), respectively. The results showed that the relative percentages of some genera associated with nitrogen metabolism and the function of degrading aromatic hydrocarbons were increased by DMP contamination, such as Dechloromonas agitata, Pleomorphomonas sp., Denitratisoma oestradiolicum, Plasticicumulans lactativorans, Novosphingobium sp., Alicycliphilus denitrificans, and Thauera sp. Meanwhile, principal coordinate analysis (PCA) analysis showed that the addition of DMP divided 12 samples into two groups as followed: one was the DMP group containing a-1, a-2, b-1, b-2, c-1 and c-2 while the other was no DMP group including A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1 and C-2. It indicated that DMP was the main reason for this change. In addition, by monitoring the activity of substrate enzymes, the activity of urease, phosphatase, catalase, and invertase in the wetlands before and after the experiment, these were significantly higher in the upper layer than in the lower layer and maintained high activity. Ultimately, the average influent concentration of DMP in three VFCWs was 8.12 mg/L and the average removal efficiency of the effluent was over 90%. Our results suggested that DMP was an important factor affecting the microbial community structure of wetland and the upper layer of the VFCW was the main site for the degradation of DMP. VFCW has great potential for the removal of the high concentration of DMP and it can be a good choice for the treatment of PAEs. Full article
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Article
Alkylphenols and Chlorophenols Remediation in Vertical Flow Constructed Wetlands: Removal Efficiency and Microbial Community Response
Water 2021, 13(5), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050715 - 06 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 998
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the effect of two different groups of phenolic compounds (the alkylphenols nonylphenol (NP) and octylphenol (OP), and the chlorophenol pentachlorophenol (PCP)) on constructed wetlands (CWs) performance, including on organic matter, nutrients and contaminants removal efficiency, and on microbial [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the effect of two different groups of phenolic compounds (the alkylphenols nonylphenol (NP) and octylphenol (OP), and the chlorophenol pentachlorophenol (PCP)) on constructed wetlands (CWs) performance, including on organic matter, nutrients and contaminants removal efficiency, and on microbial community structure in the plant bed substrate. CWs were assembled at lab scale simulating a vertical flow configuration and irrigated along eight weeks with Ribeira de Joane (an urban stream) water not doped (control) or doped with a mixture of NP and OP or with PCP (at a 100 μg·L−1 concentration each). The presence of the phenolic contaminants did not interfere in the removal of organic matter or nutrients in CWs in the long term. Removals of NP and OP were >99%, whereas PCP removals varied between 87% and 98%, mainly due to biodegradation. Microbial richness, diversity and dominance in CWs substrate were generally not affected by phenolic compounds, with only PCP decreasing diversity. Microbial community structure, however, showed that there was an adaptation of the microbial community to the presence of each contaminant, with several specialist genera being enriched following exposure. The three more abundant specialist genera were Methylotenera and Methylophilus (methylophilaceae family) and Hyphomicrobium (hyphomicrobiaceae family) when the systems were exposed to a mixture of NP and OP. When exposed to PCP, the three more abundant genera were Denitromonas (Rhodocyclaceae family), Xenococcus_PCC_7305 (Xenococcaceae family) and Rhodocyclaceae_uncultured (Rhodocyclaceae family). To increase CWs efficiency in the elimination of phenolic compounds, namely PCP which was not totally removed, strategies to stimulate (namely biostimulation) or increase (namely bioaugmentation) the presence of these bacteria should be explore. This study clearly shows the potential of vertical flow CWs for the removal of phenolic compounds, a still little explored subject, contributing to promote the use of CWs as nature-based solutions to remediate water contaminated with different families of persistent and/or emergent contaminants. Full article
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Article
Resilience of Micropollutant and Biological Effect Removal in an Aerated Horizontal Flow Treatment Wetland
Water 2020, 12(11), 3050; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113050 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
The performance of an aerated horizontal subsurface flow treatment wetland was investigated before, during and after a simulated aeration failure. Conventional wastewater parameters (e.g., carbonaceous biological oxygen demand, total nitrogen, and Escherichia coli) as well as selected micropollutants (caffeine, ibuprofen, naproxen, benzotriazole, [...] Read more.
The performance of an aerated horizontal subsurface flow treatment wetland was investigated before, during and after a simulated aeration failure. Conventional wastewater parameters (e.g., carbonaceous biological oxygen demand, total nitrogen, and Escherichia coli) as well as selected micropollutants (caffeine, ibuprofen, naproxen, benzotriazole, diclofenac, acesulfame, and carbamazepine) were investigated. Furthermore, the removal of biological effects was investigated using in vitro bioassays. The six bioassays selected covered environmentally relevant endpoints (indicative of activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor, AhR; binding to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, PPARγ; activation of estrogen receptor alpha, ERα; activation of glucocorticoid receptor, GR; oxidative stress response, AREc32; combined algae test, CAT). During the aeration interruption phase, the water quality deteriorated to a degree comparable to that of a conventional (non-aerated) horizontal subsurface flow wetland. After the end of the aeration interruption, the analytical and biological parameters investigated recovered at different time periods until their initial treatment performance. Treatment efficacy for conventional parameters was recovered within a few days, but no complete recovery of treatment efficacy could be observed for bioassays AhR, AREc32 and CAT in the 21 days following re-start of the aeration system. Furthermore, the removal efficacy along the flow path for most of the chemicals and bioassays recovered as it was observed in the baseline phase. Only for the activation of AhR and AREc32 there was a shift of the internal treatment profile from 12.5% to 25% (AhR) and 50% (AREc32) of the fractional length. Full article
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Article
Capacity of Two Ornamental Species (Iris sibirica and Zantedeschia aethiopica) to Take up, Translocate, and Accumulate Carbamazepine under Hydroponic Conditions
Water 2020, 12(5), 1272; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051272 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1196
Abstract
Iris sibirica and Zantedeschia aethiopica are ornamental species that have previously been used in pilot-scale treatment wetlands (TWs) focused on the removal of carbamazepine (CBZ), in which good results were obtained; however, the plant influence was not completely determined. In addition, plant uptake [...] Read more.
Iris sibirica and Zantedeschia aethiopica are ornamental species that have previously been used in pilot-scale treatment wetlands (TWs) focused on the removal of carbamazepine (CBZ), in which good results were obtained; however, the plant influence was not completely determined. In addition, plant uptake has been reported to play a crucial role in CBZ removal in comparison to other mechanisms. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the capacity of I. sibirica and Z. aethiopica to take up, translocate, and accumulate CBZ in hydroponic conditions using a nutrient solution spiked with the drug. The maximum CBZ tolerance threshold for the two species was found to be 10 mg/L, which was used to carry out the uptake experiments. The results showed a better performance of I. sibirica compared to Z. aethiopica reaching 31.1% and 20.9% of removal efficiency, respectively. The parent compound accumulated mainly on the leaves of both species. Furthermore, a high proportion of the CBZ taken up by the plants (up to 70%) was metabolized by both species. The performance of the two species suggests the importance of plant harvesting in TWs in order to promote CBZ removal and indicates the need for future works. Full article
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Review

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Review
A Literature Review of Wetland Treatment Systems Used to Treat Runoff Mixtures Containing Antibiotics and Pesticides from Urban and Agricultural Landscapes
Water 2021, 13(24), 3631; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243631 - 17 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 957
Abstract
Wetland treatment systems are used extensively across the world to mitigate surface runoff. While wetland treatment for nitrogen mitigation has been comprehensively reviewed, the implications of common-use pesticides and antibiotics on nitrogen reduction remain relatively unreviewed. Therefore, this review seeks to comprehensively assess [...] Read more.
Wetland treatment systems are used extensively across the world to mitigate surface runoff. While wetland treatment for nitrogen mitigation has been comprehensively reviewed, the implications of common-use pesticides and antibiotics on nitrogen reduction remain relatively unreviewed. Therefore, this review seeks to comprehensively assess the removal of commonly used pesticides and antibiotics and their implications for nitrogen removal in wetland treatment systems receiving non-point source runoff from urban and agricultural landscapes. A total of 181 primary studies were identified spanning 37 countries. Most of the reviewed publications studied pesticides (n = 153) entering wetlands systems, while antibiotics (n = 29) had fewer publications. Even fewer publications reviewed the impact of influent mixtures on nitrogen removal processes in wetlands (n = 16). Removal efficiencies for antibiotics (35–100%), pesticides (−619–100%), and nitrate-nitrogen (−113–100%) varied widely across the studies, with pesticides and antibiotics impacting microbial communities, the presence and type of vegetation, timing, and hydrology in wetland ecosystems. However, implications for the nitrogen cycle were dependent on the specific emerging contaminant present. A significant knowledge gap remains in how wetland treatment systems are used to treat non-point source mixtures that contain nutrients, pesticides, and antibiotics, resulting in an unknown regarding nitrogen removal efficiency as runoff contaminant mixtures evolve. Full article
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