Challenges and technological approaches for tackling emerging contaminants in drinking and wastewater

In recent decades, emerging contaminants (ECs) have surfaced as one of the key environmental problems threatening ecosystems and public health. Most emerging contaminants are present in low concentrations, and therefore often remain undetected and are also referred to as ‘micropollutants’. Despite this, many ECs raise considerable concerns regarding their impacts on human and environmental health. DEMEAU (Demonstration of promising technologies to address emerging contaminants in water and wastewater), a European Seventh Framework Programme (EU-FP7, 2013-2015) project, aimed to tackle ECs in drinking and wastewater by advancing the uptake of knowledge, prototypes, practices and removal technologies. The project followed a solutions-oriented approach using applied research and demonstration sites, and explored four promising technologies for EC removal and/or degradation: Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), Hybrid Ceramic Membrane Filtration (HCMF), Automatic Neural Net Control Systems (ANCS) and Advanced Oxidation Techniques (AOT). Furthermore, Bioassays (BA) were investigated as an effect-based monitoring tool. This article shares new findings for each approach and their potential for widespread integration in the drinking- and wastewater sector. Research results from DEMEAU demonstration sites show that opportunities for synergies among these developments offer the most promising and effective methods for tackling ECs in the water sector.

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