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Special Issue "Removal of Pharmaceuticals from Water: Conventional and Alternative Treatments"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Marta Otero

Department of Chemistry & CESAM, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Water pollution and contamination; Water and wastewater treatment: global treatment systems, sustainable treatment processes, clean and alternative technologies; Wastes management and valorization; Alternative adsorbent materials: production, characterization and utilization
Guest Editor
Dr. Carla Escapa

Department: Department of Applied Chemistry and Physics, Universidad de León, León, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: water treatment; emerging contaminants; nutrients; phytoremediation; bioremediation; toxicity
Guest Editor
Dr. Ricardo N. Coimbra

Department of Applied Chemistry and Physics, Universidad de León, León, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: water treatment; emerging contaminants; adsorption; biowastes; thermal processes; circular economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water pollution is a major global problem, the conservation of aquatic resources being one of the main challenges for the 21st century. Within the different types of pollution, that caused by emerging contaminants (ECs) has been in the spotlight of the scientific community during the last few decades. ECs are contaminants that are not currently covered by existing regulations but are thought to be a threat to environmental ecosystems and human health. Among ECs, pharmaceuticals represent an especially worrying class because they are biologically active and their presence in the aquatic environment may cause physiological effects in non-target individuals. In addition, this sort of pollution is becoming a matter of public health since the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has been repeatedly reported.

Research on the analytic quantification, occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment has deeply evolve and must continue evolving. However, presently, within the global aim on water protection and in order to give response to future restrictions, it is necessary to find out efficient and sustainable ways to remove pharmaceuticals from water.

Conventional treatments are not necessarily effective in the removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater, especially because they were not designed for that purpose but rather for the elimination of regulated parameters. Therefore, although further research is required on the efficiency of conventional treatments, urges to find out more efficient and specific treatments able to remove this sort of pollutants from water.

In this context, the present Special Issue aims the publication of original research or review papers on the removal of medicines from water, either drinking or waste water, by conventional or alternative treatments. Scientific contributions on the fate of pharmaceuticals during the application of biological or physicochemical treatments are welcomed.

Subject areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Activated sludge treatments.
  • Oxidation and advanced oxidation processes.
  • Membrane processes.
  • Adsorption onto activated carbon or alternative adsorbents.
  • Advanced (nano)materials.
  • Bioremediation.
  • Natural treatment systems (wetlands, stabilization ponds, etc.).
  • Generation of transformation products during water treatment.
  • Evaluation of the removal efficiency in percent or toxicity terms.
  • Novel strategies for efficiency enhancement.

Dr. Marta Otero
Dr. Carla Escapa
Dr. Ricardo N. Coimbra
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 papers will be 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 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 1600 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

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Wastewater
  • Drinking Water
  • Biological Treatment
  • Physicochemical Treatment
  • Advanced Treatment
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Purification Plant
  • Effluent

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Origin, Fate and Control of Pharmaceuticals in the Urban Water Cycle: A Case Study
Water 2019, 11(5), 1034; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11051034
Received: 28 April 2019 / Revised: 12 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
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Abstract
The aquatic environment and drinking water production are under increasing pressure from the presence of pharmaceuticals and their transformation products in surface waters. Demographic developments and climate change result in increasing environmental concentrations, deeming abatement measures necessary. Here, we report on an extensive [...] Read more.
The aquatic environment and drinking water production are under increasing pressure from the presence of pharmaceuticals and their transformation products in surface waters. Demographic developments and climate change result in increasing environmental concentrations, deeming abatement measures necessary. Here, we report on an extensive case study around the river Meuse and its tributaries in the south of The Netherlands. For the first time, concentrations in the tributaries were measured and their apportionment to a drinking water intake downstream were calculated and measured. Large variations, depending on the river discharge were observed. At low discharge, total concentrations up to 40 μg/L were detected, with individual pharmaceuticals exceeding thresholds of toxicological concern and ecological water-quality standards. Several abatement options, like reorganization of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and additional treatment of wastewater or drinking water were evaluated. Abatement at all WWTPs would result in a good chemical and ecological status in the rivers as required by the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive. Considering long implementation periods and high investment costs, we recommend prioritizing additional treatment at the WWTPs with a high contribution to the environment. If drinking water quality is at risk, temporary treatment solutions in drinking water production can be considered. Pilot plant research proved that ultraviolet (UV) oxidation is a suitable solution for drinking water and wastewater treatment, the latter preferably in combination with effluent organic matter removal. In this way >95% of removal of pharmaceuticals and their transformation products can be achieved, both in drinking water and in wastewater. Application of UV/H2O2, preceded by humic acid removal by ion exchange, will cost about €0.23/m3 treated water. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Removal of Multi-Class Antibiotic Drugs from Wastewater Using Water-Soluble Protein of Moringa stenopetala Seeds
Water 2019, 11(3), 595; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030595
Received: 17 November 2018 / Revised: 15 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 21 March 2019
PDF Full-text (3412 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The removal of ten selected antibiotic drugs belonging to different classes (sulphonamides, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, and tetracycline) was investigated using water-soluble proteins from the seeds of Moringa stenopetala. The surface functional groups of water-soluble protein powder before and after removal of antibiotics were [...] Read more.
The removal of ten selected antibiotic drugs belonging to different classes (sulphonamides, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, and tetracycline) was investigated using water-soluble proteins from the seeds of Moringa stenopetala. The surface functional groups of water-soluble protein powder before and after removal of antibiotics were characterized using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR). Processing parameters that could affect the removal efficiency, such as initial analyte concentration, protein dosage, and pH were studied. An optimized method was applied to a real wastewater sample collected from Daspoort Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located in Pretoria, South Africa. Under optimal conditions, the results indicated good agreement between the efficiency of water-soluble proteins to remove antibiotics from the real wastewater sample and from the synthetic wastewater sample prepared in the laboratory using standard solutions with known concentrations. The percentage of removal under optimum conditions (protein dosage of 40 mg, initial analyte concentration of 0.1 mg L−1, and pH 7) was between 85.2 ± 0.01% and 96.3 ± 0.03% for standard mixture solution and from 72.4 ± 0.32% to 92.5 ± 0.84% and 70.4 ± 0.82% to 91.5 ± 0.71% for the real wastewater (effluent and influent) sample. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Utilization of Non-Living Microalgae Biomass from Two Different Strains for the Adsorptive Removal of Diclofenac from Water
Water 2018, 10(10), 1401; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10101401
Received: 3 September 2018 / Revised: 28 September 2018 / Accepted: 6 October 2018 / Published: 9 October 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the present work, the adsorptive removal of diclofenac from water by biosorption onto non-living microalgae biomass was assessed. Kinetic and equilibrium experiments were carried out using biomass of two different microalgae strains, namely Synechocystis sp. and Scenedesmus sp. Also, for comparison purposes, [...] Read more.
In the present work, the adsorptive removal of diclofenac from water by biosorption onto non-living microalgae biomass was assessed. Kinetic and equilibrium experiments were carried out using biomass of two different microalgae strains, namely Synechocystis sp. and Scenedesmus sp. Also, for comparison purposes, a commercial activated carbon was used under identical experimental conditions. The kinetics of the diclofenac adsorption fitted the pseudo-second order equation, and the corresponding kinetic constants indicating that adsorption was faster onto microalgae biomass than onto the activated carbon. Regarding the equilibrium results, which mostly fitted the Langmuir isotherm model, these pointed to significant differences between the adsorbent materials. The Langmuir maximum capacity (Qmax) of the activated carbon (232 mg∙g−1) was higher than that of Scenedesmus sp. (28 mg∙g−1) and of Synechocystis sp. (20 mg∙g−1). In any case, the Qmax values determined here were within the values published in the recent scientific literature on the utilization of different adsorbents for the removal of diclofenac from water. Still, Synechocystis sp. showed the largest KL fitted values, which points to the affinity of this strain for diclofenac at relative low equilibrium concentrations in solution. Overall, the results obtained point to the possible utilization of microalgae biomass waste in the treatment of water, namely for the adsorption of pharmaceuticals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transportation of Different Therapeutic Classes of Pharmaceuticals to the Surface Water, Sewage Treatment Plant, and Hospital Samples, Malaysia
Water 2018, 10(7), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10070916
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 4 June 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3026 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
All pharmaceuticals are separated chromatographically using the liquid chromatography-time of flight/mass spectrometry (LC-ToF/MS) on a 5 µm, 2.1 mm × 250 mm, C18 column at 0.3 mL/min. The recovery is investigated at two spiking levels, 10 and 1 ng/mL; the mean recovery is [...] Read more.
All pharmaceuticals are separated chromatographically using the liquid chromatography-time of flight/mass spectrometry (LC-ToF/MS) on a 5 µm, 2.1 mm × 250 mm, C18 column at 0.3 mL/min. The recovery is investigated at two spiking levels, 10 and 1 ng/mL; the mean recovery is higher than 77, 84, and 93% in sewage treatment plants (STP) influent, STP effluent, and surface water, respectively. The limit of quantification (LOQ) averages 29, 16, 7, and 2 ng/L in STP influent, STP effluent, surface water, and drinking water, respectively. The matrix effect is also evaluated in STP influent and effluent. It is observed that sulfamethoxazole, prednisolone, ketoprofen, and glibenclamide are highly impacted compared to other compounds, −99, −110, 77, and 91%, respectively. The results show that six out of nine pharmaceuticals, namely atenolol, acetaminophen, theophylline, caffeine, metoprolol, and sulfamethoxazole are detected in STP influent, STP effluent, and surface water. However, the means of concentration are 561, 3305, 1805, 3900, 78, and 308 ng/L for atenolol, acetaminophen, theophylline, caffeine, metoprolol, and sulfamethoxazole, respectively, in STP influent. Caffeine and acetaminophen are detected with the highest concentration, reaching up to 8700 and 4919 ng/L, respectively, in STP influent. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Use of Algae and Fungi for Removal of Pharmaceuticals by Bioremediation and Biosorption Processes: A Review
Water 2019, 11(8), 1555; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081555
Received: 3 July 2019 / Revised: 19 July 2019 / Accepted: 25 July 2019 / Published: 27 July 2019
PDF Full-text (1210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment is recognized as one of the emerging issues in environmental chemistry. Conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals (and their metabolites) from domestic wastewaters. The treatability of pharmaceutical compounds [...] Read more.
The occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment is recognized as one of the emerging issues in environmental chemistry. Conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals (and their metabolites) from domestic wastewaters. The treatability of pharmaceutical compounds in WWTPs varies considerably depending on the type of compound since their biodegradability can differ significantly. As a consequence, they may reach the aquatic environment, directly or by leaching of the sludge produced by these facilities. Currently, the technologies under research for the removal of pharmaceuticals, namely membrane technologies and advanced oxidation processes, have high operation costs related to energy and chemical consumption. When chemical reactions are involved, other aspects to consider include the formation of harmful reaction by-products and the management of the toxic sludge produced. Research is needed in order to develop economic and sustainable treatment processes, such as bioremediation and biosorption. The use of low-cost materials, such as biological matrices (e.g., algae and fungi), has advantages such as low capital investment, easy operation, low operation costs, and the non-formation of degradation by-products. An extensive review of existing research on this subject is presented. Full article
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