Microplastics and nanoplastics are abundant in the environment, and the fate and impact of nanoplastics are of particular interest because of their small size. Wastewater treatment plants are a sink for nanoplastics, and large quantities of nanoplastics are ffscharged into surface waters through wastewater as well as stormwater effluents. There is a need to understand the fate and removal of nanoplastics during water, wastewater, and stormwater treatment, and this study investigated their removal on a bench-scale using synthesized nanoplastics (<400 nm) to allow controlled experiments. Plastic particles were created in the lab to control their size, and bench-scale dewatering devices were tested for their ability to remove these particles. Filtration with a 0.22 μm filter removed 92 ± 3% of the particles, centrifugation at 10,000 rpm (670,800 g) for 10 min removed 99 ± 1% of the particles, and ballasted flocculation removed 88 ± 3%. These results provide a general idea of the magnitude of the removal of nanoplastics with separation processes, and more work is recommended to determine the degree of removal with full-scale unit processes. Even though the removal was good using all three treatments, smaller particles escaping treatment may increase the nanoplastics concentration of receiving water boffes and impact aquatic ecosystems.

Centrifugation, Filtration, Microplastics, Nanoplastics, Removal, Settling, Wastewater
Water (Switzerland)
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Murray, A. (Audrey), & Örmeci, B. (2020). Removal effectiveness of nanoplastics (<400 nm) with separation processes used for water and wastewater treatment. Water (Switzerland), 12(3). doi:10.3390/w12030635