Pilot-scale removal of organic micropollutants and natural organic matter from drinking water using ozonation followed by granular activated carbon†
Conventional drinking water treatment is inefficient in removing a large fraction of known organic micropollutants (OMPs). Therefore more efficient treatment approaches are needed to limit exposure to OMPs via drinking water. Here, the OMP removal performance of a combination of ozonation/no ozonation and two types of granular activated carbon (GAC) was tested in a one-year pilot-scale study, alongside a study of full-scale treatment. The raw water was lake water with low ambient concentrations of OMPs. In total, 29 of 99 targeted OMPs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), pharmaceuticals and other OMPs) were detected (mean ∑OMPs = 57 ± 16 ng L−1). Only a few OMPs were consistently removed in the full-scale process, while ozonation in the pilot experiment effectively removed 72% of detected compounds to levels <30%. The GAC columns showed breakthrough of OMPs and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) for both ozonated and non-ozonated water, with earlier breakthrough for DOC than OMPs. Breakthrough of OMPs was delayed in ozonated columns, possibly because of lower adsorption competition with low-molecular-weight natural organic matter (NOM) fractions measured with liquid chromatography (LC-OCD). The OMP removal performance of the two GAC materials was not affected by greater DOC loading, but Filtrasorb showed 25% higher removal of DOC without losing capacity to remove OMPs. Compounds with low log KOC tended to break through earlier than those with higher KOC values. The lowest levels of OMPs were observed in GAC effluents using ozonated feed water demonstrating the efficacy of combining ozone with GAC for managing OMP levels during drinking water production.