Natural gas found in drinking water near fracked wells

Posted by 26 Jun, 2013

TweetJohn Roach, Contributing Writer, NBC News Elevated levels of methane and other stray gases have been found in drinking water near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus shale region, according to new research. In the case of methane, concentrations were six times higher in some drinking water found within one kilometer of drilling operations. […]

John Roach, Contributing Writer, NBC News

A Marcellus shale gas extraction well pad and farm in Pennsylvania. New research finds contaminated drinking water, in some cases, in homes within one kilometer of these wells.

Elevated levels of methane and other stray gases have been found in drinking water near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus shale region, according to new research. In the case of methane, concentrations were six times higher in some drinking water found within one kilometer of drilling operations.


Categories : Science and Industry Updates

Screening and evaluation of innate coagulants for water treatment: a sustainable approach –

Posted by 21 Mar, 2013

TweetAbstract Access to safe drinking water is important as a health and development issue at national, regional, and local levels. About one billion people do not have healthy drinking water. More than six million people (about two million children) die because of diarrhea which is caused by polluted water. Developing countries pay a high cost […]


Access to safe drinking water is important as a health and development issue at national, regional, and local levels. About one billion people do not have healthy drinking water. More than six million people (about two million children) die because of diarrhea which is caused by polluted water. Developing countries pay a high cost to import chemicals including polyaluminium chloride and alum. This is the reason why these countries need low-cost methods requiring low maintenance and skill. The use of synthetic coagulants is not regarded as suitable due to health and economic considerations. The present study was aimed to investigate the effects of alum as coagulant in conjunction with bean, sago, and chitin as coagulants on the removal of color, turbidity, hardness, and Escherichia coli from water. A conventional jar test apparatus was employed for the tests. The study was taken up in three stages, initially with synthetic waters, followed by testing of the efficiency of coagulants individually on surface waters and, lastly, testing of blended coagulants. The experiment was conducted at three different pH conditions of 6, 7, and 8. The dosages chosen were 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 mg/l. The results showed that turbidity decrease provided also a primary E. coli reduction. Hardness removal efficiency was observed to be 93% at pH 7 with 1-mg/l concentration by alum, whereas chitin was stable at all the pH ranges showing the highest removal at 1 and 1.5mg/l with pH 7. In conclusion, using natural coagulants results in considerable savings in chemicals and sludge handling cost may be achieved.


Alum; Chitin; Sago; Bean; Coagulation; Turbidity


The explosive growth of the world’s human population and subsequent water and energy demands have led to an expansion of standing surface water [1]. Nowadays, the concern about contamination of aquatic environments has increased, especially when water is used for human consumption. About one billion people do not have healthy drinking water. More than six million people (about two million children) die because of diarrhea which is caused by polluted water[2,3].

In most of the cases, surface water turbidity is caused by the clay particles, and the color is due to the decayed natural organic matter. Generally, the particles that determine the turbidity are not separated by settling or through traditional filtration. Colloidal suspension stability in surface water is also due to the electric charge of particle surface. Thus, there is great importance in either the development of more sophisticated treatments or the improvement of the current ones [4].

The production of potable water from most raw water sources usually entails the use of a coagulation flocculation stage to remove turbidity in the form of suspended and colloidal material. This process plays a major role in surface water treatment by reducing turbidity, bacteria, algae, color, organic compounds, and clay particles. The presence of suspended particles would clog filters or impair disinfection process, thereby dramatically minimizing the risk of waterborne diseases [5,6].

Many coagulants are widely used in conventional water treatment processes, based on their chemical characteristics. These coagulants are classified into inorganic, synthetic organic polymers, and natural coagulants [4]. Alum has been the most widely used coagulant because of its proven performance, cost effectiveness, relatively easy handling, and availability. Recently, much attention has been drawn on the extensive use of alum. Aluminum is regarded as an important poisoning factor in dialysis encephalopathy. Aluminum is one of the factors which might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease [7-9]. Alum reaction with water alkalinity reduces water pH and its efficiency in cold water [10,11]. However, some synthetic organic polymers such as acrylamide have neurotoxicity and strong carcinogenic effect [8,12].

In addition, the use of alum salts is inappropriate in some developing countries because of the high costs of imported chemicals and low availability of chemical coagulants [3]. This is the reason why these countries need low-cost methods requiring low maintenance and skill.

For these reasons, and also due to other advantages of natural coagulants/flocculants over chemicals, some countries such as Japan, China, India, and the United States have adopted the use of natural polymers in the treatment of surface water for the production of drinking water [13]. A number of studies have pointed out that the introduction of natural coagulants as a substitute for metal salts may ease the problems associated with chemical coagulants.

Natural macromolecular coagulants are promising and have attracted the attention of many researchers because of their abundant source, low price, multi-purposeness, and biodegradation[11,14,15]. Okra, rice, and chitosan are natural compounds which have been used in turbidity removal [16-18]. The extract of the seeds has been mentioned for drastically reducing the amount of sludge and bacteria in sewage [19].

In view of the above discussion, the present work has been taken up to evaluate the efficiency of various natural coagulants on the physico-chemical contaminant removal of water. To date, most of the research has been concentrated on the coagulant efficiencies in synthetic water, but in this study, we move ahead making an attempt to test the efficiency of the natural coagulants on surface water. The efficiencies of the coagulants as stated by [20] might alter depending on many factors: nature of organic matter, structure, dimension, functional groups, chemical species, and others.


Natural coagulants and their preparation

Sago is a product prepared from the milk of tapioca root. Its botanical name is ‘Manihot esculentaCrantz syn. M. utilissima’. Hyacinth bean with botanical name Dolichos lablab is chosen as another coagulant. Both the coagulants were used in the form of powders (starches). Starch consists mainly of a homopolymer of α-D-glucopyranosyl units that comes in two molecular forms, linear and branched. The former is referred to as amylose and the latter as amylopectin [21]. These have the general structure as per [22] (Figure  1) .

thumbnailFigure 1. General structure of amylose and amylopectin.

The third coagulant was chitin ([C8H13O5N]n), which is a non-toxic, biodegradable polymer of high molecular weight. Like cellulose, chitin is a fiber, and in addition, it presents exceptional chemical and biological qualities that can be used in many industrial and medical applications. The two plant originated coagulants were taken in the form of powder or starch. Chitin was commercially procured.

Stage I

The first stage included testing the efficiency of the four coagulants on the synthetic waters. Synthetic waters with turbidity of 70 and 100 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) were prepared with fuller’s earth in the laboratory and were used in this part of the study. The experiment was carried out using a jar test apparatus. The experiments were conducted in duplicates to eliminate any kind of error. Efficiency was evaluated by determination of reduction in turbidity of both the synthetic samples.

Stage II

In the second stage of the experiment, the individual coagulants were evaluated for their efficiency on the surface waters. The water samples for this stage and the preceding stage were collected from the surface reservoir, Mudasarlova, located at a distance of 5 km from the Environmental Monitoring Laboratory, GITAM University, where the experiments were carried out. This is the reservoir which serves as a source of domestic water for the nearby residents.

Care was taken while collecting the samples so that a representative sample is obtained. All samples were collected in sterile plastic containers. The samples were transported to the laboratory, and all the experiments were conducted within a duration of 24 h. The physical parameters like temperature and color were noted at the point of sample collection. The water samples were analyzed for the following parameters pre- and post-treatment with the coagulants (Table  1).

Table 1. Physico-chemical parameters tested (stage II)

The coagulants were tested at various concentrations like 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 mg/l at three pH ranges of 6, 7, and 8.

Stage III

The results obtained from the second stage of the study have encouraged us to further extend the study in terms of blended coagulants. The blending of coagulants was taken up from the fact that alum was the most widely used coagulant, and hence, it was taken as one part. The remaining combinations were 2, 3, 4, and 5 parts of the natural coagulants, i.e., 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, and 1:5.

Testing of the following parameters was adopted for evaluating the efficiency of the blended coagulants (pre- and post-coagulation) (Table  2). All the analysis has been performed as per the standard methods given by APHA, 2005 [23].

Table 2. Physico-chemical parameters tested (stage III)

E. coli presence

The E. coli bacterial presence and absence were determined in the pre- and post-coagulated water using H2S strip bottle. The water sample was filled into the bottle and allowed to stand for 24 h at room temperature. After 24 h, the water sample was observed for color change; black color change indicates the presence of E. coli.


Coagulant actions onto colloidal particles take place through charge neutralization of negatively charged particles. If charge neutralization is the predominant mechanism, a stochiometric relation can be established between the particles’ concentration and coagulant optimal dose.

In the initial stage of the experiment, the coagulants were tested against synthetic turbid samples with 70 and 100 NTU. According to Figure  2a,b, the optimum dosage of alum was observed to be 1mg/l for both the turbid samples, and the optimum pH is observed to be 7.

thumbnailFigure 2. Turbidity removal efficiency of alum with initial turbidities of (a) 100 and (b) 70 NTU.

It is understood from Figure  3a,b that the optimum dosage for chitin as coagulant is 1.5 mg/l (turbidity to 40 NTU) for 100 NTU, whereas not much difference was observed between pH 7 and 8 for both the turbid samples. The optimum pH is observed to be 7 for both 70 and 100 NTU samples.

thumbnailFigure 3. Turbidity removal efficiency of chitin with initial turbidities of (a) 100 and (b) 70 NTU.

Figure  4a,b exemplifies the trends of sago on the turbidity removal of the synthetic solutions. It is observed that sago was effective at both 1 and 1.5 mg/l (turbidity reduced to 50 and 45 NTU, respectively) for 100 NTU solution, and the efficiency was stable at pH 7 and 8.

thumbnailFigure 4. Turbidity removal efficiency of sago with initial turbidities of (a) 100 and (b) 70 NTU.

Figure  5a,b illustrates the effect of bean on the synthetic turbid samples and turbidity removal. It is observed that bean was effective at 1mg/l (turbidity reduced to 55 NTU) for 100 NTU solution, and the efficiency was stable at pH 7 and 8.

thumbnailFigure 5. Turbidity removal efficiency of bean with initial turbidities of (a) 100 and (b) 70 NTU.

Implications from the stage 1 experiment articulate that the coagulants are quite stable at the pH ranges tested; hence, in the proceeding experiments, all the three pH ranges were considered. In the second stage of experiment, the environmental samples from the surface water source were collected and tested for the removal of turbidity and other chemical parameters. The dosages were the same as the previous stage. The results are graphically represented as shown in Figures  67,89.

thumbnailFigure 6. Turbidity removal efficiency of individual coagulants.

thumbnailFigure 7. Total hardness removal efficiency of individual coagulants.

thumbnailFigure 8. Calcium hardness removal efficiency of individual coagulants.

thumbnailFigure 9. Chloride removal efficiency of coagulants.

The turbidity removal efficiencies of the individual coagulants are depicted in Figure  6 wherein there was a broad variation among the pH ranges. The maximum reduction was observed with 1 mg/l (87%) of bean at pH 6 followed by 1 mg/l (82%) sago at the same pH. At pH 7, the maximum efficiency was shown by bean with 1.5 mg/l dosage (85.37%) followed by bean and sago with 1 (82.49%) and 1.5 mg/l (82.49%), respectively. Removal efficiencies of 41.46% and 36.59% were reported by 1 mg/l of bean and sago, respectively, at pH 8. The minimum reductions are not reported as there was a negative competence of the coagulants at different doses and pH variations. It can be observed from the graph that there was an increase in the turbidity of the water at these dosages like with 2 g of chitin the turbidity removal was −19.51. In the entire study, the best results were obtained with total hardness removal wherein no negative competence was reported as shown in Figure  7. The utmost removal was observed with 0.5-mg/l (97.67%) sago at pH 7. At pH 6, it was (90.70%) with 1.5 mg/l of bean. At pH 8, the reduction was (93.02%) with 0.5 mg/l of alum. Apart from these, the general observation was that all the coagulants were effective in an average removal of 65% total hardness at all pH variations and doses. The tracking for the least efficiency has showed chitin at pH 6 with 2-mg/l dose (34.88%).

The calcium hardness removal efficiencies are directly proportional with the total hardness removal; the highest removal was recorded by chitin (93.33%) at pH 7 with 1.5-mg/l dose as shown in Figure  8. Removal of 90% is at pH 8 and 7 with 0.5-mg/l alum and 1-mg/l chitin, respectively. Minimum effectiveness was observed by chitin (6.67%) at pH 6 with 2-mg/l dose. On an average, the removal competence was more than 60% with all coagulants at doses at all the pH conditions.

Figure  8 illustrates the chloride removal efficiency of the coagulants tested. The average competence was observed to be 40%. The maximum competence was noted at pH 7 by chitin (83.64%) at 1.5 mg/l followed by sago (81.82%) at 1 mg/l. Indeed at pH 7, the removal was observed to be superior as a whole. Similarly, pH has shown inferior effectiveness in the amputation of chloride. The remarkable point that was noted is that at pH 8, where the removal was superior, the increase in doses of sago and bean (1.5 and 2 mg/l) has shown a depressing outcome.

With the results obtained from the second stage experimentation, the study was carried forward for the evaluation of blended coagulants. From the literature, it was understood that blended coagulants show improved competence than that of the individual ones.

The regular test of turbidity was substituted with conductivity to establish a relation and test the difference with these parameters. The conductivity diminution was observed to be preeminent at the ratio of 1:2 of all the blended coagulants 26.12%, 26.00%, and 21.35% with alum/bean, alum/chitin, and alum/sago, respectively. The highest reduction was observed with alum/sago at pH 8 with 1:2 ratio (32.28%) (Figure  10).

thumbnailFigure 10. Conductivity removal efficiency of blended coagulants.

The total hardness reduction trend of the blended coagulants was recorded as follows: at pH 7, all combinations of alum/bean have resulted in negative competence. Amputation of 100% was observed with alum/chitin and alum/sago at 1:2 and 1:4 and 1:5 doses, respectively (Figure  11). The overall competence of the alum/chitin and alum/sago were registered to be more than 80%. The calcium hardness efficiencies of the blended coagulants were similar to that of the total hardness. The highest removal efficiency was shown by alum/chitin with 1:5 ratio at pH 7 (Figure 12).

thumbnailFigure 11. Total hardness removal efficiency of blended coagulants.

thumbnailFigure 12. Calcium hardness removal efficiency of blended coagulants.

As said earlier, the turbidity was replaced by color determination taking into account the fact that turbidity is directly related to the color. pH 7 has been remarkably effective in the highest removal of color from the water. The blended coagulant alum/sago was found to be very effective with 98% to 100% reduction in color at all the ratios of dosage (Figure  13). The blended coagulants alum/chitin and alum/sago were relatively successful at an average rate of 80% decline in the color at almost all ratios of dosage at pH 7 and 8.

thumbnailFigure 13. Color removal efficiency of blended coagulants.

Alum/sago blend has a noteworthy effect on the removal of chloride from the water samples in which no negative result was noted. The highest reduction was observed with alum/chitin with dose of 1:5 (85.71%) at pH 7. Indeed, pH 7 can be optimized as perfect pH for this blend as all the ratios of dosages were quite efficient in the removal of chloride (Figure  14).

thumbnailFigure 14. Chloride removal efficiency of blended coagulants.


Although many studies have used synthetic water in the experiments, this work chose to use raw water collected directly from the surface source. Therefore, it is important to consider that the natural compounds may cause variations in their composition, which interfere in the treatment process. All those factors are taken into account when evaluating the obtained results.

The characteristics of the superficial water used in this study are observed as that the water used has apparent color, turbidity, solids, and amount of compounds with a relatively high absorption in UV (254 nm). It is noticeable that the water has high turbidity and color.

The effectiveness of alum, commonly used as a coagulant, is severely affected by low or high pH. In optimum conditions, the white flocs were large and rigid and settled well in less than 10 min. This finding is in agreement with other studies at optimum pH [24,25]. The optimum pH was 7 and was similar to the obtained results by Divakaran [26]. At high turbidity, a significant improvement in residual water turbidity was observed. The supernatant was clear after about 20-min settling. Flocs were larger and settling time was lower. The results showed that above optimum dosage, the suspensions showed a tendency to restabilize.

The effectiveness of the chitin in the present study in the removal of various contaminants with varied pH individually and also in blended form can be traced to the explanation from the literature that chitin has been studied as biosorbent to a lesser extent than chitosan; however, the natural greater resistance of the former compared to the last, due to its greater crystallinity, could mean a great advantage. Besides, the possibility to control the degree of acetylation of chitin permits to enhance its adsorption potential by increasing its primary amine group density. Recent studies regarding the production of chitin-based biocomposites and its application as fluoride biosorbents have demonstrated the potential of these materials to be used in continuous adsorption processes. Moreover, these biocomposites could remove many different contaminants, including cations, organic compounds, and anions [27].

Chitosan has high affinity with the residual oil and excellent properties such as biodegradability, hydrophilicity, biocompability, adsorption property, flocculating ability, polyelectrolisity, antibacterial property, and its capacity of regeneration in many applications [28]. It has been used as non-toxic floccules in the treatment of organically polluted wastewater [29].

The effects of coagulation process on hardness are observed for varying levels of hardness, which resulted in significant decrease of hardness removal. The study correlates with the results obtained by [27], wherein they had a maximum hardness removal of 84.3% by chitosan in low turbid water with initial hardness of about 204 mg/l as CaCO3.

Several experiments were carried out to determine the comparative performance of chitosan on E. coli in different turbidities. E. coli negative is present in the chitin-treated waters in all of the turbidities. The conclusive evidence was found for the negative influence of chitosan on E. coli. The regrowth of E. coli was not observed in the experiments after 24 h, which was similar to the observations by [27].

As far as sago is considered, the starch was effective both individually and as blended coagulant. Unlike polyaluminium chloride, the efficiency of the natural coagulants is not affected by pH. The pH increased their efficiency, which is one of the advantages of natural coagulants. The principle behind the efficiency of the sago from the literature can be stated as follows: Sago starch is a natural polymer that is categorized as polyelectrolyte and can act as coagulant aid. Coagulant aid can be classified according to the ionization traits, which are the anions, cations, and amphoteric (with dual charges). Bratskaya et al. [30] mentioned that among the three groups, cation polymer is normally used to remove adsorbed negatively charged particles by attracting the adsorbed particles through electrostatic force. They discovered that anion polymer and those non-ionized cannot be used to coagulate negatively charged particles.

The chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduction is influenced by the concentration of sago used; the lower the concentration the better the removal of the COD. Using less than 1.50 g L-1, better COD reduction is observed. At this low concentration, settling time did not influence the COD reduction. Similarly, concentration of sago used at lower than 1.50 g L-1 reduced the turbidity in less than 15 min of settling time. Sago concentration higher than 1.50 g L-1 increased the turbidity; however, settling time has an influence on the turbidity reduction at higher sago concentrations. This pattern is congruent with the COD removal [31].

The sago starch-graft-polyacrylamide (SS-g-PAm) coagulants were found to achieve water turbidity removal up to 96.6%. The results of this study suggest that SS-g-PAm copolymer is a potential coagulant for reducing turbidity during water treatment [32].

At its optimum concentration, D. lablab seed powder does not affect the pH of the water. Total and calcium hardness remained almost constant and were within acceptable levels according to World Health Organization standards for drinking water. Moreover, coagulation of medium to high turbidity water with D. lablab seed powder with the finest grain size reduced turbidity further. The best performance of the finest seed powder could be due to its large total surface area, whereby most of the water-soluble proteins are at the solid–liquid interface during the extraction process as stated by Gassenschmidtet al. [33]. This might have increased the concentration of active coagulation polymer in the extract, which improved the coagulation process. The coagulant extract from seeds has shown antimicrobial activity in the comparative culture test, which was also observed in the study of Tandonet al. [34].

D. lablab demonstrated the best performance with turbid water, in which a turbidity removal efficiency of 87% was observed. The restabilization of destabilized colloidal particles, which was associated with higher residual turbidities, occurred at dosages above the optimum. It is commonly observed that particles are destabilized by small amounts of hydrolyzing metal salts and that optimum destabilization corresponds with neutralization of the particles’ charge. Larger amounts of coagulants cause charge reversal so that the particles become positively charged and, thus, restabilization occurs, which results in elevated turbidity levels [35]. It has also been observed that the reduction in turbidity is associated with significant improvements in bacteriological quality. The effect of natural coagulants on turbidity removal and the antimicrobial properties against microorganisms may render them applicable for simultaneous coagulation and disinfection of water for rural and peri-urban people in developing countries [36].

It is observed that blended coagulants gave utmost efficiency as compared to the traditional alum coagulants. Here in this blending process, we reduce the alum dose up to 80%; thus, we reduce the drawbacks of the alum. Also, we can reduce the cost of the treatment using the natural coagulants instead of the traditional coagulant.

E. coli is the best coliform indicator of fecal contamination from human and animal wastes. E. colipresence is more representative of fecal pollution because it is present in higher numbers in fecal material and generally not elsewhere in the environment [37]. Results showed the absence of E. coli increases with increasing time. A greater percentage of E. coli was eliminated in higher turbidities. The aggregation and, thus, removal of E. coli was directly proportional to the concentration of particles in the suspension. Chitosan and other natural coagulants showed antibacterial effects of 2 to 4 log reductions.

Antimicrobial effects of water-insoluble chitin and coagulants were attributed to both its flocculation and bactericidal activities. A bridging mechanism has been reported for bacterial coagulation by chitosan [38]. Especially with reference to chitosan, molecules can stack on the microbial cell surface, thereby forming an impervious layer around the cell that blocks the channels, which are crucial for living cells [39]. On the other hand, cell reduction in microorganisms, such as E. coli, occurred without noticeable cell aggregation by chitosan.

This indicates that flocculation was not the only mechanism by which microbial reduction occurred. It was found that when samples were stored during 24 h, regrowth of E. coli was not observed for all turbidities. It should be noted that the test water contained no nutrient to support regrowth of E. coli, and chitosan is not a nutrient source for it. Another experiment was designed to check the effect of alum alone. Regrowth of E. coli was not observed for unaided alum after 24 h. The number of E. coli after resuspension of sediment reached to the initial numbers after 24 h and showed that it cannot be inactivated by alum. Such findings have been previously reported by Bina[40].


Access to clean and safe drinking water is difficult in rural areas of India. Water is generally available during the rainy season, but it is muddy and full of sediments. Because of a lack of purifying agents, communities drink water that is no doubt contaminated by sediment and human feces. Thus, the use of natural coagulants that are locally available in combination with solar radiation, which is abundant and inexhaustible, provides a solution to the need for clean and safe drinking water in the rural communities of India. Use of this technology can reduce poverty, decrease excess morbidity and mortality from waterborne diseases, and improve overall quality of life in rural areas.

The application of coagulation treatment using natural coagulants on surface water was examined in this study. The surface water was characterized by a high concentration of suspended particles with a high turbidity. At a varied range of pH, the suspended particles easily dissolved and settled along with the coagulants added. Research has been undertaken to evaluate the performance of natural starches of sago flour, bean powder, and chitin to act as coagulants individually and in blended form. In all three cases, the main variable was the dosage of the coagulant. The study shows that natural characteristics of starch and other coagulants can be an efficient coagulant for surface water but would need further study in modifying it to be efficient to the maximum. Thus, it can be concluded that the blended coagulants are the best which give maximum removal efficiency in minimum time.

It is chitin and chitosan which can readily be derivatized by utilizing the reactivity of the primary amino group and the primary and secondary hydroxyl groups to find applications in diversified areas. In this work, an attempt has been made to increase the understanding of the importance and effects of chitin at various doses and pH conditions, upon the chemical and biological properties of water. In view of this, this study will attract the attention of academicians and environmentalists.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Saritha Vara

Author Affiliations

Department of Environmental Studies, GITAM Institute of Science, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh 530045, India

International Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering 2012, 3:29 doi:10.1186/2251-6832-3-29
The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received: 24 May 2012
Accepted: 30 July 2012
Published: 5 October 2012

© 2012 Vara; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Categories : Science and Industry Updates

Drinking water quality standards –

Posted by 26 Feb, 2013

TweetDrinking water quality standards describes the quality parameters set for drinking water. Despite the truism that every human on this planet needs drinking water to survive and that water can contain many harmful compounds, there are no universally recognized and accepted international standards for drinking water. Even where standards exist and are applied, the permitted […]

Drinking water quality standards describes the quality parameters set for drinking water. Despite the truism that every human on this planet needs drinking water to survive and that water can contain many harmful compounds, there are no universally recognized and accepted international standards for drinking water. Even where standards exist and are applied, the permitted concentration of individual constituents may vary by as much as ten times from one set of standards to another.

Many developed countries specify standards to be applied in their own country. In Europe, this includes the European Drinking Water Directive and in the USA the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes standards as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. For countries without a legislative or administrative framework for such standards, the World Health Organization publishes guidelines on the standards that should be achieved. China adopted its own drinking water standard GB3838-2002 (Type II) enacted by Ministry of Environmental Protection in 2002.

Where drinking water quality standards do exist, most are expressed as guidelines or targets rather than requirements, and very few water standards have any legal basis or are subject to enforcement. Two exceptions are the European Drinking Water Directive and the Safe Drinking Water Act in the USA, which require legal compliance with specific standards.

In Europe, this includes a requirement for member states to enact appropriate local legislation to mandate the directive in each country. Routine inspection and, where required, enforcement is enacted by means of penalties imposed by the European Commission on non-compliant nations.

Countries with guideline values as their standards include Canada which has guideline values for a relatively small suite of parameters, New Zealand where there is a legislative basis but water providers have to make “best efforts” to comply with the standards in Australia.

Range of standards
Although drinking water standards are frequently referred to as if they are simple lists of parametric values, standards documents also specify the sampling location, sampling methods, sampling frequency, analytical methods and laboratory accreditation AQC. In addition, a number of standards documents also require calculation to determine whether a level exceeds the standard, such as taking an average. Some standards give complex, detailed requirements for the statistical treatment of results, temporal and seasonal variations, summation of related parameters, and mathematical treatment of apparently aberrant results.

Parametric values
A parametric value in this context is most commonly the concentration of a substance, e.g. 30 mg/l of Iron. It may also be a count such as 500 E. coli per litre or a statistical value such as the average concentration of copper is 2 mg/l. Many countries not only specify parametric values that may have health impacts but also specify parametric values for a range of constituents that by themselves are unlikely to have any impact on health. These include colour, turbidity, pH and the organoleptic (aesthetic) parameters (taste and odor).

It is possible and technically acceptable to refer to the same parameter in different ways that may appear to suggest a variation in the standard required. For example, nitrite may be measured as nitrite ion or expressed as N. A standard of “Nitrite as N” set at 1.4 mg/l equals a nitrite ion concentration of 4.6 mg/l – an apparent difference of nearly threefold.

Australian standards
Drinking water quality standards in Australia have been developed by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in the form of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. These guidelines provide contaminant limits (pathogen, aesthetic, organic, inorganic and radiological) as well as guidance on applying limits for the management of drinking water in Australian drinking water treatment and distribution.

European Union standards
The following parametric standards are included in the Drinking Water directive and are expected to be enforced by appropriate legislation in every country in the European Union. Simple parametric values are reproduced here but in many cases the original directive also provides caveats and notes about many of the values given.
• Acrylamide 0.10 μg/l
• Antimony 5.0 μg/l
• Arsenic 10 μg/l
• Benzene 1.0 μg/l
• Benzo(a)pyrene 0.010 μg/l
• Boron 1.0 mg/l
• Bromate 10 μg/l
• Cadmium 5.0 μg/l
• Chromium 50 μg/l
• Copper 2.0 mg/l
• Cyanide 50 μg/l
• 1,2-dichloroethane 3.0 μg/l
• Epichlorohydrin 0.10 μg/l
• Fluoride 1.5 mg/l
• Lead 10 μg/l
• Mercury 1.0 μg/l
• Nickel 20 μg/l
• Nitrate 50 mg/l
• Nitrite 0.50 mg/l
• Pesticides 0.10 μg/l
• Pesticides – Total 0.50 μg/l
• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 0.10 μg/l Sum of concentrations of specified compounds;
• Selenium 10 μg/l
• Tetrachloroethene and Trichloroethene 10 μg/l Sum of concentrations of specified parameters
• Trihalomethanes — Total 100 μg/l Sum of concentrations of specified compounds
• Vinyl chloride 0.50 μg/l

United States standards
In the USA, the federal legislation controlling drinking water quality is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which is implemented by the EPA, mainly through state or territorial primacy agencies. States and territories must implement rules at least as stringent as EPA’s to retain primary enforcement authority (primacy) over drinking water. Many states also apply their own state-specific standards which may be more rigorous or include additional parameters. Standards set by the EPA in the USA are not international standards since they apply to a single country. However, many countries look to the USA for appropriate scientific and public health guidance and may reference or adopt USA standards.

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines
The WHO guidelines include the following recommended limits on naturally occurring constituents that may have direct adverse health impact:
• Arsenic 0.010 mg/l
• Barium 10μg/l
• Boron 2400μg/l
• Chromium 50μg/l
• Fluoride 1500μg/l
• Selenium 40μg/l
• Uranium 30μg/l
For man-made pollutants potentially occurring in drinking water, the following standards have been proposed:
• Cadmium 3μg/l
• Mercury 6μg/l For inorganic mercury
Organic species:
• Benzene 10μg/l
• Carbon tetrachloride 4μg/l
• 1,2-Dichlorobenzene 1000μg/l
• 1,4-Dichlorobenzene 300μg/l
• 1,2-Dichloroethane 30μg/l
• 1,2-Dichloroethene 50μg/l
• Dichloromethane 20μg/l
• Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate 8 μg/l
• 1,4-Dioxane 50μg/l
• Edetic acid 600μg/l
• Ethylbenzene 300 μg/l
• Hexachlorobutadiene 0.6 μg/l
• Nitrilotriacetic acid 200μg/l
• Pentachlorophenol 9μg/l
• Styrene 20μg/l
• Tetrachloroethene 40μg/l
• Toluene 700μg/l
• Trichloroethene 20μg/l
• Xylenes 500μg/l
Comparison of parameters

The following table provides a comparison of a selection of parameters concentrations listed by WHO, the European Union, EPA and Ministry of Environmental Protection of China.
” indicates that no standard has been identified by editors of this article and ns indicates that no standard exists. μg/l -> Micro grams per litre or 0.001 ppm, mg/L -> 1 ppm or 1000 μg/l (Text made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License: original found here:


World Health Organization

European Union

United States


Acrylamide 0.10 μg/l
Arsenic 10μg/l 10 μg/l 10μg/l 50μg/l
Antimony ns 5.0 μg/l 6.0 μg/l
Barium 700μg/l ns 2 mg/L
Benzene 10μg/l 1.0 μg/l 5 μg/l
Benzo(a)pyrene 0.010 μg/l 0.2 μg/l 0.0028 μg/l
Boron 2.4mg/l 1.0 mg/L
Bromate 10 μg/l 10 μg/l
Cadmium 3 μg/l 5 μg/l 5 μg/l 5 μg/l
Chromium 50μg/l 50 μg/l 0.1 mg/L 50 μg/l (Cr6)
Copper 2.0 mg/l TT 1 mg/l
Cyanide 50 μg/l 0.2 mg/L 50 μg/l
1,2-dichloroethane 3.0 μg/l 5 μg/l
Epichlorohydrin 0.10 μg/l
Fluoride 1.5 mg/l 1.5 mg/l 4 mg/l 1 mg/l
Lead 10 μg/l 15 μg/l 10 μg/l
Mercury 6 μg/l 1 μg/l 2 μg/l 0.05 μg/l
Nickel 20 μg/l
Nitrate 50 mg/l 50 mg/l 10 mg/L (as N) 10 mg/L (as N)
Nitrite 0.50 mg/l 1 mg/L (as N)
Pesticides (individual) 0.10 μg/ l
Pesticides — Total 0.50 μg/l
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons l 0.10 μg/
Selenium 40 μg/l 10 μg/l 50 μg/l 10 μg/l
Tetrachloroethene and Trichloroethene 40μg/l 10 μg/l
Categories : Science and Industry Updates

Recent Papers in Adsorption and Ion Exchange Processes –

Posted by 21 Feb, 2013

TweetContent Table Recent Papers in Adsorption and Ion Exchange Processes Magnetic ion exchange resin treatment for drinking water production Removal of radiocobalt from EDTA-complexes using oxidation and selective ion exchange Ammonium removal from anaerobic digester effluent by ion exchange A hybrid ion exchange-nanofiltration (HIX-NF) process for energy efficient desalination of brackish/seawater Adsorption kinetics and isotherm […]

Content Table

Magnetic ion exchange resin treatment for drinking water production

Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology—AQUA Vol 58 No 1 pp 41–50 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/aqua.2009.081

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B. Sani, E. Basile, L. Rossi and C. Lubello

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Florence, Via S. Marta 3, I-50139, Florence, Italy Tel.: +39 55 479 6317 E-mail:
Publiacqua SpA, Via Villamagna 39, I-50126, Florence, Italy


Italian drinking water treatment plants (DWTP) generally use chlorine-based chemicals to achieve the oxidation/disinfection phases of their treatment trains. The main problem related to the application of such disinfectants consists in the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) as a result of the reaction with organic substances in the water. Italian regulations set very strict limits for the maximum concentration of chlorine DBPs and, for many DWTPs, the compliance with such a regulation is difficult. Non-oxidative pre-treatments, able to remove organic substances from the water prior to chlorination, could be a suitable solution to overcome this problem. These treatments could increase the water quality, decrease the oxidant demand and, hence, reduce the formation of DBPs. This paper presents an experimental investigation of ion exchange processes for the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal by using MIEX® resin. The process was studied as a pre-treatment on raw river water. The DOC removal efficiency and the effects on downstream processes of the treatment train were evaluated.

Removal of radiocobalt from EDTA-complexes using oxidation and selective ion exchange

Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 60 No 4 pp 1097–1101 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wst.2009.458

org.xwiki.gwt.dom.client.Element#placeholder“>Link to Summary Page

L. K. Malinen, R. Koivula and R. Harjula

Laboratory of Radiochemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 55 (A. I. Virtasen aukio 1), FI-00014, Finland E-mail:;;


Methods for the removal of radiocobalt from an ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) complex of Co(II) (aqueous solution containing 10 mM Co(II) and 10 mM or 50 mM EDTA traced with 57Co) are presented. The studies examined a combination of different oxidation methods and the sorption of 57Co on a selective inorganic ion exchange material, CoTreat. The oxidation methods used were ultraviolet (UV) irradiation with and without hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), as well as ozonation alone or in combination with UV irradiation. Also, the possible contribution of Degussa P25 TiO2 photocatalyst to degradation of EDTA was studied. The best results for the equimolar solution of Co(II) and EDTA were achieved by combining ozonation, UV irradiation, Degussa P25 TiO2 and CoTreat, with approximately 94% sorption of 57Co. High values for the 57Co sorption were also achieved by ozonation (~88%) and UV irradiation (~90%) in the presence of CoTreat and Degussa P25 TiO2. A surplus of EDTA over Co(II) was also tested using 10 mM Co(II) and 50mM EDTA. Only a slight decrease, to ~88% sorption of 57Co, was detected compared to the value (~90%) obtained with 10 mM EDTA.

Ammonium removal from anaerobic digester effluent by ion exchange

Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 60 No 1 pp 201–210 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wst.2009.317

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T. Wirthensohn, F. Waeger, L. Jelinek and W. Fuchs

Department of IFA-Tulln, Institute for Environmental Biotechnology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences—Vienna, Konrad Lorenz Strasse 20, 3430 Tulln, Austria E-mail:;;
Department of Power Engineering, Faculty of Environmental Technology, Institute of Chemical Technology, Technicka 5, 166 28 Prague 6, Czech Republic E-mail:


The effluent of a 500 kW biogas plant is treated with a solid separation, a micro filtration and a reverse osmosis to achieve nutrient recovery and an effluent quality which should meet disposal quality into public water bodies. After the reverse osmosis, the ammonium concentration is still high (NH4-N = 467 mg/l), amongst other cations (K+=85 mg/l; Na+=67 mg/l; Mg2 + =0.74 mg/l; Ca2 + =1.79 mg/l). The aim of this study was to remove this ammonium by ion exchange. Acidic gel cation exchange resins and clinoptilolite were tested in column experiments to evaluate their capacity, flow rates and pH. Amberjet 1,500 H was the most efficient resin, 57 BV of the substrate could be treated, 1.97 mol NH4-N/l resin were removed. The ammonium removal was more than 99% and the quality of the effluent was very satisfactory (NH4-N < 2 mg/l). The breakthrough of the observed parameters happened suddenly, the order was sodium—pH—ammonium—potassium. The sharp increase of the pH facilitates the online control, while the change in conductivity is less significant. A regeneration with 3 bed volumes of 2  M HCl recovered 91.7% of the original cation exchange capacity.

A hybrid ion exchange-nanofiltration (HIX-NF) process for energy efficient desalination of brackish/seawater

Water Science & Technology: Water Supply—WSTWS Vol 9 No 4 pp 369–377 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/ws.2009.634

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S. Sarkar and A. K. SenGupta

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, Fritz Engineering Laboratory, 13 E Packer Avenue, Bethlehem PA, 18015, USA E-mail:;


This study reports a new hybrid ion exchange-nanofiltration (HIX-NF) process for desalination of sea and brackish water that can attain significant energy economy over the conventional membrane-based pressure driven processes. In this hybrid process, an ion exchange step converts monovalent chloride ions of saline water to divalent sulfate ions and the resulting solution, having a reduced osmotic pressure than the feed, is desalinated using a nanofiltration (NF) membrane. The sulfate rich reject stream from the NF process is used to regenerate the anion exchanger. Results validate that NF membranes can desalinate sodium sulfate solution at a much lower transmembrane pressure compared to RO membranes as well as yield a higher permeate flux. The sulfate-chloride selectivity of the anion exchangers plays important role in sustainability of the process. Laboratory studies have revealed that a single type of anion exchanger cannot sustain the process for saline water with different salt concentrations. However, anion exchangers with different sizes of amine functional groups (e.g. quaternary-, tertiary-, secondary- and primary amine) hold the promise that the process can be tailored to achieve sustainability. Laboratory studies have validated the basic premise of the hybrid process including greater than two times less energy requirement than RO process for the same feed water and same permeate recovery condition.

Adsorption kinetics and isotherm characteristics of selected endocrine disrupting compounds on activated carbon in natural waters

Water Science & Technology: Water Supply—WSTWS Vol 9 No 1 pp 51–58 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/ws.2009.063

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A. Assoumani, L. Favier-Teodorescu and D. Wolbert

Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Rennes,CNRS, UMR 6226, Avenue du Général Leclerc, CS 50837, 35700, Rennes Cedex 4, France E-mail:


Bisphenol A (BPA) and ethynylestradiol (EE2), two representative endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), were tested for their adsorbabilities onto two powdered activated carbons (PACs). The main aim of the study was to create a prediction tool for the determination of the EDCs adsorbabilities at low ng.L-1 level. Single solute solution adsorption isotherms at high concentrations, for prediction purposes, and low concentrations, for verification of the prediction, were performed for one EDC/PAC couple. Over the whole range of concentration, results showed that the Langmuir-Freundlich model better suits the adsorption phenomenon than the Freundlich or Langmuir model. Kinetics experiments were carried out on the same EDC/PAC couple. HSDM modelling of single solute adsorption kinetics at high concentration allowed determining the kinetic coefficients kf and Ds; both were shown to dominate the mass transfer mechanism. Competitive adsorption isotherms at high and low concentrations showed that downward extrapolation of low concentration adsorption capacities from solely high concentration information results in acceptable error compared to the total range isotherm. The IAST-EBC approach combined with the Langmuir-Freundlich single solute model, for the target compound, and the Langmuir model, for the EBC, appears as an acceptable global model.

Influence of hybrid coagulation-ultrafiltration pretreatment on trace organics adsorption in drinking water treatment

Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology—AQUA Vol 58 No 3 pp 170–180 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/aqua.2009.071

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S. Müller and W. Uhl

Institute of Urban Water Management (ISI), Chair of Water Supply Engineering, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, 01062, Germany Tel.:             +49-(0)351-46333126       Fax: +49-(0)351-46337204 E-mail:


The treatment of raw water by hybrid coagulation-ultrafiltration was investigated. Coagulation-ultrafiltration removed high molecular weight organics, preferentially humics. Adsorption of the trace compound cis-1,2-dichloroethene, present in raw water, on granular activated carbon was improved considerably as compounds competing for adsorption space had been removed. This was shown in isotherms and breakthrough curves. Aeration during filtration did not affect membrane performance as expressed in permeability. However, aeration in the submerged membrane container resulted in a release of organic matter from the flocs, which resulted in higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon in the filtrate.

Phosphorus adsorption on water treatment residual solids

Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology—AQUA Vol 58 No 1 pp 1–10 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/aqua.2009.017

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Meaghan K. Gibbons, Md. Maruf Mortula and Graham A. Gagnon

Department of Civil and Resource Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 1X1, Canada Tel.:             +1 902 494 3268       Fax:+1 902 494 3108 E-mail:
Department of Civil Engineering, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, PO Box, 26666, UAE


The treatment and disposal of water treatment plant residual solids has become an increasingly important environmental priority for drinking water utilities. This study examines water treatment residual solids (WTRSs) from four North American water treatment plants to determine the role that coagulant types play in phosphate adsorption by the residual solids. In total, two alum residual solids (one solid from a plant that has a raw water with low alkalinity and one solid from a plant that has a raw water with high alkalinity), one lime residual solid and one ferric residual solid were used in batch adsorption experiments with deionized water at a pH of 6.2±0.2 and secondary municipal wastewater effluent at a pH of 6.8. Langmuir isotherm modeling showed that ferric residuals had the highest adsorptive capacity for phosphate (Qmax=2,960 mg/kg), followed by lime (Qmax=1,390 mg/kg) and alum (Qmax=1,110 mg/kg and 1,030 mg/kg) for adsorption experiments with P-spiked deionized water. Of the two alum residuals, the residual with a higher weight percent of metal oxides had a higher adsorptive capacity. The ferric residuals were less affected by competing species in the wastewater effluent, while the lime and alum residuals had a higher rate of phosphate removal from the deionized water compared to the wastewater effluent. Overall, ferric water treatment residuals were the best adsorbent for phosphate adsorption, followed by lime and alum residuals.

Influence of surface chemistry and structure of activated carbon on adsorption of fulvic acids from water solution

Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 60 No 2 pp 441–447 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wst.2009.344

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L. A. Savchyna, I. P. Kozyatnyk, T. V. Poliakova and N. A. Klymenko

Institute of Colloid Chemistry and Chemistry of Water, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, 42 Vernadsky Avenue, Kiev 03680, Ukraine E-mail:


The adsorption of fulvic acids (FA) from aqueous solutions on activated carbon (AC) with different characteristics of surface chemical state has been investigated. To characterize the adsorbability of FA with complex fractional composition, a method of estimation of modified Freundlich equation constants was employed, and “conventional component” was used to evaluate the change in Gibbs free adsorption energy. It has been shown that change in activated carbon surface energy in-homogeneity due to oxidation leads mainly to a decrease in the adsorption energy of fulvic acids and to an increase of the concentration range of the conventional portion of the low adsorbable fraction. Decrease in the adsorption energy of organic substrate may result in higher degree of spontaneous bioregeneration of activated carbon and hence in its longer life in the processes of FA solutions filtration.

Synthesis of carboxylated chitosan and its adsorption properties for cadmium (II), lead (II) and copper (II) from aqueous solutions

Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 60 No 2 pp 467–474 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wst.2009.369

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K. L. Lv, Y. L. Du and C. M. Wang

Department of Chemistry, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China E-mail:


Carboxylated chitosan (CKCTS) was prepared for the removal of Cd(II), Pb(II), and Cu(II) from aqueous solutions. The effects of experimental parameters such as pH value, initial concentration, contact time and temperature on the adsorption were studied. From the results we can see that the adsorption capacities of Cd(II), Pb(II), and Cu(II) increase with increasing pH of the solution. The kinetic rates were best fitted to the pseudo-second-order model. The adsorption equilibrium data were fitted well with the Langmuir isotherm, which revealed that the maximum adsorption capacities for monolayer saturation of Cd(II), Pb(II), and Cu(II) were 0.555, 0.733 and 0.827 mmol/g, respectively. The adsorption was an exothermic process.

Competitive adsorption of heavy metals in soil underlying an infiltration facility installed in an urban area

Water Science & Technology—WST Vol 59 No 2 pp 303–310 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/wst.2009.865

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M. A. Hossain, H. Furumai and F. Nakajima

Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, 1000, Bangladesh E-mail:;
Research Center for Water Environment Technology, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8656, Japan E-mail:
Environmental Science Center, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan E-mail-


Accumulation of heavy metals at elevated concentration and potential of considerable amount of the accumulated heavy metals to reach the soil system was observed from earlier studies in soakaways sediments within an infiltration facility in Tokyo, Japan. In order to understand the competitive adsorption behaviour of heavy metals Zn, Ni and Cu in soil, competitive batch adsorption experiments were carried out using single metal and binary metal combinations on soil samples representative of underlying soil and surface soil at the site. Speciation analysis of the adsorbed metals was carried out through BCR sequential extraction method. Among the metals, Cu was not affected by competition while Zn and Ni were affected by competition of coexisting metals. The parameters of fitted ‘Freundlich’ and ‘Langmuir’ isotherms indicated more intense competition in underlying soil compared to surface soil for adsorption of Zn and Ni. The speciation of adsorbed metals revealed less selectivity of Zn and Ni to soil organic matter, while dominance of organic bound fraction was observed for Cu, especially in organic rich surface soil. Compared to underlying soil, the surface soil is expected to provide greater adsorption to heavy metals as well as provide greater stability to adsorbed metals, especially for Cu.


Categories : Case Studies & Application Stories, Science and Industry Updates