From 20 to 23 October the 11th Micropol & Ecohazard conference was held in Seoul, South-Korea. The Micropol conference focuses on many topics related to the presence of micropollutants in drinking water and wastewater as well as how to remove these compounds.
Multiple sessions were organised on the biological removal of organic micropollutants. The effect of several parameters (sludge retention time, temperature, etc.) on the removal of organic micropollutants in biological (waste)water processes was discussed by several studies. KWR works together with the Dutch drinking water companies on the removal of these compounds during drinking water production. Nikki van Bel presented two studies on this topic: the biological removal of metformin, pyrazole and guanylurea in rapid sand filters in full-scale and in pilot studies.
There was also much interest in the usage of ozone or wetlands as treatment strategies to remove micropollutants from water, and what the advantages and disadvantages are of this approach. The importance of bioassays to judge the risk of individual organic micropollutants, or a mixture, on the ecosystem, was stressed several times.
Microplastics are increasingly more present in the water cycle. KWR is currently conducting research together with Wageningen University and the University of Utrecht in the TRAMP project and also with the Dutch drinking water companies aimed at gaining more insight into the fate of microplastics and nanoplastics in wastewater, surface water and drinking water. Due to their present knowledge of the removal efficiency in commonly employed water treatment processes is crucial. For this reason, Patrick S. Bäuerlein presented data showing the removal efficiency of activated carbon, sand filtration and flocculation.
Patrick also introduced an alternative way to remove diclofenac, a ubiquitous micropollutant, from wastewater. A material was developed that selectively removes diclofenac from the wastewater stream. This material can subsequently be removed in a sewage treatment plant.
On the last evening, the conference dinner was held at the Sebitseom, a restaurant floating on the major Han river with a beautiful view over illuminated Seoul at night time. An excellent opportunity to get to know fellow researchers and the organising committee.