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What is Wastewater and why do we

need to treat it.

• Wastewater is basically used water. It includes substances such as human
waste, food scraps, oils, soaps and chemicals. In homes, this includes
water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and
dishwashers. Businesses and industries also contribute their share of used
water that must be cleaned.
• If wastewater is not properly treated, then the environment and human
health can be negatively impacted.
• These impacts can include harm to fish and wildlife populations, oxygen
depletion, beach closures and other restrictions on recreational water use,
restrictions on fish and shellfish harvesting and contamination of drinking
• A number of excessive nutrients can clog up water bodies, causing
• Heavy metals such as arsenic are extremely harmful, and can have acute
and chronic toxic effects on a number of aquatic and land species.Hence
the very dire need to treat it.
Arsenic and its toxicity
• Arsenic is only one of the several metallic constituents present in
the various water sources.
• It mainly exists in the +3 and +5 oxidation states.
• It has been recognized by the World Health Organisation(WHO) as a
group 1 human carcinogenic substance.
• Upon intake of only a minute amount of it, the human body gets
attacked by a number of diseases, some of which might be for a
prolonged time.
• Studies have shown that compared to +5 oxidation state, the
element in its +3 oxidation state is much more harmful, as it is more
cytotoxic, genotoxic, mobile, and soluble.
• Therefore, it is absolutely vital that the toxic element be removed
or the wastewater cleaned up off it as far as possible, to make sure
that humans consuming the water, or the aquatic animals and
plants intaking the water contain as little of it as is permitted.
Major treatments to remove the
arsenic from waters
• Involves the conversion of soluble arsenic to an insoluble one.
• The process however, requires further treatment methods, which might
include coagulation/flocculation, chemical precipitation, or ion exchange,
all of which will be discussed.
• In developing countries, atmospheric oxygen, hypochlorite, and
permanganate are the most commonly used oxidants.
• The process generally converts the arsenic in its +3 oxidation state to its +5
oxidation state, in which the substance is much more insoluble, which can
then be treated by using techniques such as adsorption and precipitation
to finally remove the arsenic from the water.
• Some compounds however, cannot be used satisfactorily as oxidants, for
example, ozone(O3) cannot be used if the water contains S2- or TOC.
Hence, it is necessary that oxidising materials be selected extremely
carefully for these processes.
Oxidants used to convert As(III) to
• A study conducted has listed and found seven oxidants which can be successfully
used to a certain extent for the conversion of the As(III) to As(V).
• Chlorine has been found to be the most effective oxidant in the successful
conversion of As(III) to As(V), although the present of sulphide in the same water
hindered the success a bit.
• As in the case with chlorine, permanganate was found to be as effective , if not
faster, in the oxidation of As(III) to As(V).
• Ozone was again found to be another effective method in the conversion, and
whole process was completed in just under 15 seconds. But at the time, sulphide,
again hindered and slowed down the process to the minimal amount.
• Chlorine dioxide has been identified as another oxidant, although it was termed as
a huge failure, as it was found to help convert only a minimal amount of 20-30% of
the As(III).
• Preformed monochloramine, UV irradiation, and filox solid media, although
identified as oxidants, cannot be readily or successfully used in the oxidising
process, owing to their extremely low success rates.
• The next few slides talk about the various methods used to finally remove the
arsenic from the water after having been converted into the +5 oxidation state.
A Basic outline of the treatment process which shows the wastewater being treated by
oxidation followed by the previously mentioned physico-chemical processes.
• A major point to be noted in the removal of arsenic is that, , at a pH of
around 6.5-8.5, the element present as a compound in its +3 oxidation
state is generally uncharged, and in its reduced state. On the other hand,
the arsenic present as a compound in its +5 oxidation state is generally
anionic. Thus from the general point of view, the arsenic in its +5 oxidation
state is much easier to remove as it is in a much more unstable state than
the compounds containing arsenic in its +3 oxidation state. Anion
exchange and adsorption and precipitation can therefore be readily used
to remove the arsenic once it is in its +5 oxidation state.
• Thus it becomes extremely necessary that if the arsenic is present in its +3
oxidation state, that it should initially be have to be converted to its +5
oxidation state, before any of the major treatment techniques be carried
• The following slide will discuss the various techniques and compounds
used to remove the arsenic from the water once it has been converted
into the +5 oxidation state.
• Coagulation is a process of treating water by using coagulants like
alum to neutralize the charges on the colloidal particles, thus
binding them together and forming lumps much bigger in size as
compared to the colloids, making it easy to separate the needed
constituents from the water.
• In the removal of arsenic from wastewater, iron salts are used as
coagulants, which helps remove more tan 90% of arsenate from the
water, at a pH of around 7, whereas at a pH level of above 7, flocs
help remove arsenic extremely effectively.
• The iron salts help remove around 50% of the trivalent(+3) arsenic
from the water.
• Some iron and manganese are removed from the water using a
combination of oxidation and precipitation, along with the arsenic,
which is generally adsorbed.
Pureflow coagulation/filtration system at the
Salt Lake Service Area #3 (Snowbird, UT)
drinking water plant
Ion Exchange processes
• It is basically a process which has been in use for a pretty
long time, and involves the use of resins(in this case a
strong base one) to exchange the anions on the arsenic
compound with those of it.
• Strong base resins permit the use of ordinary sodium
chloride brine for regeneration, and eliminate the need for
the use of strong acids.
• An extremely effective method, this helps in producing
what we call today, deionised water.
• The chlorine ions get replaced by the arsenic ions in the
exchange sites, while the arsenic ones present in the water
gets exchanged and is converted into the harmless chloride
Activated Alumina
• Activated alumina has a long history of use as an adsorptive treatment
technology for arsenic removal.
• The media is a byproduct of aluminum production. It primarily is an
aluminum oxide that has been activated by exposure to high temperature
and caustic soda.
• The material is extremely porous and has a high average surface area per
unit weight.
• The capacity for arsenic removal by activated alumina is pH-dependent,
with the maximum removal capacity achieved at pH 5.5. Adjusting the pH
of the source water, therefore, provides removal capacity advantages.
• The process, however, is preferential for arsenic at the optimum pH level
of 5.5. Thus the process is extremely pH dependent, and at pH not
pertaining to 5.5, it is difficult to remove arsenic. Similarly, at a pH of 5.5,
the other constituents present in the water cannot be removed with the
same rate of success.
The basic membrane separation
• Electrodialysis, reverse osmosis are the common and
the widely known technologies which have been in use
for a long time, to remove arsenic and other harmful
heavy metals from the wastewater, as well as other
water sources, where reverse osmosis uses a semi
permeable membrane and pressure differences for the
treatment of water.
• Lime softening too, is used at many industrial facilities,
although the initial requirements for this is the removal
calcium and magnesium salts from the salts from the
water, thus making the water soft.
The first picture shows an electrolysis process of separation
And the second shows a lime softener plant.
Emerging Treatment Technologies
• Several innovative arsenic removal technologies, or variations of
existing technologies, have been developed over the past decade.
• ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR) uses a low electrical
current to create rust from iron plates in contaminated water. The
rust binds to arsenic, which can then be removed from the water
through settling and/or filtration.
• Regenerating adsorptive media (AM) is another recent
development. A caustic soda solution (pH 13) is used to strip arsenic
off the media.
• Another low-cost technology designed to address arsenic removal
in developing countries is subterranean arsenic removal (SAR). This
technology uses controlled oxidation with air and filtration to
reduce arsenic to low levels.