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Title: Evaluation of biosorbents for the removal of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds from aqueous media
Author: Li, Yuan
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) have been recognised as contaminants in waste and natural waters, and present public and regulatory concerns. These compounds may bio-accumulate in aquatic biota, pass through food webs and exert adverse eco-toxicological effects on humans and wildlife even at very low concentrations. Effluents from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have been identified as the primary route of entry into the aquatic environment. In general, conventional WWTP processes have not been designed to remove pharmaceuticals, EDCs and other micro-pollutants from wastewater, and are often inefficient. In comparison, some state-of-the-art treatment processes, while more efficient, can be costly to establish and operate. This study aims to evaluate biosorbents as novel, sustainable materials for the removal of pharmaceuticals and EDCs from aqueous media. As there are >3000 pharmaceuticals licensed for use in the EU alone, a systematic priroritisation excercise was conducted to identify target substances that pose the greatest potential risks to the environment. A robust analytical method using liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in conjuction with solid phase extraction (SPE) was then developed and optimised for the simultaneous determination of 17 target compounds (LODs 0.07-5.99 ng·L-1 ). This method was then applied to quantify removal efficiencies of target compounds using eleven biosorbents derived from industrial and agricultural by-products. Of these, the three most effective biosorbents (biochar from orchard prunings; macro-algae Fucus vesiculosus and oak-wood chippings) were chosen to investigate the kinetics and isotherms of removal of two model compounds at low concentrations. The most promising material, biochar, was then applied to the sorption of a complex pharmaceutical and EDC mixture (µg·L-1 ), providing a total uptake of 13 mg·g-1 . These studies indicate that biosorption has the potential to provide an effective, low-cost treatment solution for water treatment, which could have widespread applicability even in rural settings or developing countries.
Supervisor: Taggart, Mark A. ; McKenzie, Craig J. ; Zhang, Zulin ; Lu, Yonglong ; Gibb, Stuart Sponsor: Hydro Nation Scholars Programme ; Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Water ; Drugs ; Endocrine disrupting chemicals ; Bioremediation ; Sustainable development ; Pollutants