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Chemosphere. 2007 Nov;69(9):1374-80. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

Behavior of selected priority organic pollutants in horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands: a preliminary screening.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Chemistry, IIQAB-CSIC, Jordi Girona 18-26, E-08034 Barcelona, Spain.


A discrete injection experiment was carried out in a constructed wetland to evaluate the behavior of selected priority pollutants. A horizontal subsurface flow pilot plant located in the NE of Spain was selected for this study. A total of eight European Priority Pollutants listed in the Water Framework Directive were considered, including a commonly used herbicide (mecoprop). The pollutants encompassed a variety of chemical classes and physicochemical properties. They included organochlorine, organophosphorus, phenols, chloroacetanilides, triazine, phenoxycarboxylic acid and phenylurea pesticides. A time series of composite effluent samples and discrete gravel bed samples from the wetland were analyzed. Response curves for all the pollutants injected from effluent concentrations were obtained and compared with the tracer (clofibric acid). On the basis of an analysis of the samples taken 21 days after the injection, priority pollutants were classified into four groups according to their removal efficiency. These groups were (i) the highly efficiently removed (>90%), namely lindane, pentachlorophenol, endosulfan and pentachlorobenzene; (ii) the efficiently removed (80-90%), namely alachlor and chlorpyriphos; (iii) poorly removed (20%), namely mecoprop and simazine; and (iv) recalcitrant to elimination, namely clofibric acid and diuron. Taking into account the poor accumulation of the injected contaminants in the gravel bed (0-20%), biodegradation and plant uptake are postulated as the most likely elimination pathways for the pollutants.

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