Performance evaluation of powdered activated carbon for removing 28 types of antibiotics from water

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Management, 2016, 172 pp. 193 - 200
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Currently, the occurrence and fate of antibiotics in the aquatic environment has become a very serious problem in that they can potentially and irreversibly damage the ecosystem and human health. For this reason, interest has increased in developing strategies to remove antibiotics from water. This study evaluated the performance of powdered activated carbon (PAC) in removing from water 6 representative groups of 28 antibiotics, namely Tetracyclines (TCs), Macrolides (MCs), Chloramphenicols (CPs), Penicillins (PNs), Sulfonamides (SAs) and Quinolones (QNs). Results indicate that PAC demonstrated superior adsorption capacity for all selected antibiotics. The removal efficiency was up to 99.9% in deionized water and 99.6% in surface water at the optimum conditions with PAC dosage of 20 mg/L and contact time of 120 min. According to the Freundlich model's adsorption isotherm, the values of n varied among these antibiotics and most were less than 1, suggesting that the adsorption of antibiotics onto PAC was nonlinear. Adsorption of antibiotics followed well the pseudo-second-order kinetic model (R2 = 0.99). Analysis using the Weber-Morris model revealed that the intra-particle diffusion was not the only rate-controlling step. Overall, the findings in this study confirm that PAC is a feasible and viable option for removing antibiotics from water in terms of water quality improvement and urgent antibiotics pollution control. Further research is essential on the following subjects: (i) removing more types of antibiotics by PAC; (ii) the adsorption process; and (iii) the mechanism of the competitive adsorption existing between natural organic matters (NOMs) and antibiotics.
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