Sand Filter Removes Estrogen With Ease - IfE research covered in C&EN

Published: Monday 23 April 2012

Some of IfE's research has just been covered by Chemical and Engineering News. Full story here.

Sand filtration might work as well to remove estrogen from wastewater as expensive and more technologically complex methods, according to research published in Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/es204590d). The findings might help protect wild fish from estrogens at low cost, researchers say.

Many scientists have found that estrogen steroids can feminize male fish at low levels, around nanograms per liter, sometimes causing the males to grow female gonads and become infertile. Such levels are typical for wastewater effluent. Sewage treatment plants around the world use a variety of methods to remove estrogens. The methods include activated carbon--whose production takes a lot of energy and releases carbon dioxide--and simpler sand filters paired with microbes that consume organic matter.

After hearing that a local utility was planning to test methods’ ability to remove estrogens, researchers led by Alice Baynes of England’s Brunel University suggested adding biological assays on fish to the planned chemical tests. Together, they sampled four wastewater streams for estrone, 17β-estradiol, and 17α-ethinylestradiol: one stream treated only with so-called activated sludge, a standard approach in most wastewater treatment plants; one treated with activated sludge followed by a sand filter containing microbes that can break down compounds; and two streams that passed through activated sludge, a sand filter, and an additional cleanup material, either granular activated carbon or oxidation by chlorine dioxide.

Page last updated: Monday 23 April 2012