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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2018;53(11):1000-1005. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2018.1471032. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Simple and practical on-site treatment of high microcystin levels in water using polypropylene plastic.

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a Division of Environmental Health Sciences , College of Public Health, The Ohio State University , Columbus , OH , USA.
b Department of Food Science and Technology , The Ohio State University , Columbus , OH , USA.


Microcystin (MC) is a hepatotoxin produced by various cyanobacteria during harmful algal blooms (HAB's) in freshwater environments. Advanced treatment methods can remove MC from drinking water, but are costly and do not address recreational water exposure and ecosystem health concerns. Here we investigate the feasibility of utilizing plastics as a MC-adsorbing material, for use in water resources used for recreation, agriculture, aquaculture and drinking water. Water containing 20 µg/L MC-LR was exposed to polypropylene (PP) plastic for a six-day period at varying temperatures (22, 37, 65°C). Water samples were then collected at 0, 1, 2, and 6 hour-intervals to examine short term treatment feasibility. Samples were also taken at 24 hours, 3 days, and 6 days to determine long-term treatment effectiveness. MC concentrations were analyzed using ELISA. Results showed a maximal reduction of nearly 70% of MC-LR after a 6-day treatment with PP at 65°C. Temperature enhanced MC-LR reduction over a 6-day period: 70% reduction at 65°C; 50% at 37°C; 38% at 22°C. We propose an inexpensive intervention strategy which can be deployed rapidly on-site in various source waters, including in resource-limited settings. During the high peak of HAB season, the strategy can be applied in source waters, alleviating water treatment burden for treatment plants, lowering treatment costs and reducing chemical usage.


Sustainable; agriculture; cyanotoxin removal; microcystin degrading bacteria; recycled plastics; source water

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