In view of risks associated with the discharge of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment, the objective of this work was to assess the removal of paracetamol, salicylic acid and diclofenac from water by a microalgae‐based treatment. For a comparison purpose, the growth and kinetic parameters for the removal of drugs were determined for three different microalgae strains, namely Chlorella sorokiniana, Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus obliquus. It was found that the drugs removal efficiency by these strains was related to their growth. Comparing the three pharmaceuticals, the salicylic acid was the most efficiently removed, especially by S. obliquus (>93% batch culture, >99% semicontinuous culture) and C. sorokiniana (>73% batch culture, >93% semicontinuous culture). Contrarily, paracetamol was the most poorly removed, the maximum efficiencies being those attained by C. sorokiniana (>67% batch culture, >41% semicontinuous culture). On the other hand, diclofenac was efficiently removed only by S. obliquus (>98% batch culture, >79% semicontinuous culture). For the three considered drugs, C. vulgaris was the strain showing the lowest removal capacity. The large differences here revealed between microalgae strains regarding their removal capacity of pharmaceuticals, pointed to the strain selection as a key issue for a successful application in wastewater treatment.
Part of the book: Biological Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery