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Granular Activated Carbon and Biological Activated Carbon Treatment of Dissolved and Sorbed Polychlorinated Biphenyls

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The most widely practiced treatment method for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in aqueous wastes is activated carbon adsorption. However, the presence of particulates in aqueous wastes may affect treatment processes primarily designed to treat dissolved PCBs because PCBs tend to partition strongly to solid surfaces. In this research, bench-scale studies were conducted to investigate the performance of granular activated carbon (GAC) and biological activated carbon (BAC) processes for treating aqueous wastes containing dissolved and sorbed PCBs. When all influent PCBs were dissolved, influent PCBs of approximately 175 μg/L were removed to approximately 0.2 μg/L in the BAC column, compared to approximately 0.8 μg/L in the GAC column. A reduction in the extent of PCB removal was observed for both GAC and BAC processes when 10 mg/L of 0.5μm polystyrene particles were added to the influent. In the presence of influent particulates, PCB removal was significantly better in the BAC column and equaled 99% compared to 62% in the GAC column. Performance differences between the GAC and BAC columns were attributed to higher particulate capture efficiency of the biological film covering the activated carbon in the BAC column. Biological activated carbon columns thus seem to offer advantages to conventional GAC processes for aqueous wastes containing either dissolved or sorbed PCBs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-03-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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