Contaminants of emerging concern in reverse osmosis brine concentrate from indirect/direct water reuse applications

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Water shortage is becoming more common due to droughts and global population increases resulting in the increasing popularity of water reuse to create new water sources. Reverse osmosis (RO) membrane systems are popular in these applications since they can produce drinking water quality effluent. Unfortunately, RO systems have the drawback of generating concentrate streams that contain contaminants rejected by the membrane including chemicals of emerging concern (CECs). CECs are chemicals such as hormones, steroids, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products that are used for their intended purpose and then released into wastewater. CECs are believed to be detrimental to aquatic wildlife health and pose an unknown human health risk. This research gathered the existing knowledge on CEC presence in concentrate, available proven concentrate treatment methods, their CEC removal abilities, and current CEC regulations. It was found that 127 CECs have been measured in RO concentrate with 100 being detected at least once. The most potent treatment process available is UV/H2O2 as it offers the highest removal rates for the widest range of chemicals. The less expensive process of ozone/biologically activated carbon offers slightly lower removal abilities. This comprehensive report will provide the groundwork for better understanding, regulating and treating concentrate stream CECs.

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