Parallel study on removal efficiency of pharmaceuticals and PFASs in advanced water treatment processes: Ozonation, GAC adsorption, and RO processes

By Choe, Hyun-Seok, Ki Yong Kim, Jeong-Eun Oh, and Jae-Hyuk Kim
Env. Eng. Res.
December 29, 2020
DOI: 10.4491/eer.2020.509

We aimed to assess the removal efficiencies of four pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, crotamiton, metformin, and sulfamethoxazole) and four poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) (PFHxA, PFHxS, PFOA, and PFOS) by lab-scale ozonation, granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorption, and reverse osmosis (RO) membrane processes under varying operating conditions. Ozonation and GAC adsorption processes were conducted at two temperatures (5 and 25°C) and three pH conditions (3, 7, and 11). The membrane process was performed using an unstirred cell with two different RO membranes. The most pharmaceuticals were effectively removed by ozonation, whereas metformin and PFASs were unaffected due to their stable chemical structures. In the GAC process, metformin was hardly removed under acidic conditions but it was enhanced by over 90%. PFASs were effectively removed by GAC adsorption and RO membrane processes. The RO membrane for brackish water treatment showed higher rejection than that for residential water treatment. Moreover, the rejection of PFAS increased as the molecular weight increased. A strategy was found to effectively remove the remaining metformin in most advanced water treatment processes. Chemically persistent PFASs were hardly removed by the ozonation process but were effectively removed by physical treatments such as GAC adsorption and RO membrane processes.


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