Newly observed presence of ‘emerging contaminants’, defined also Compounds of Emerging Concern, chemicals without regulatory status and which impact on environment and human health are poorly understood has been amply reported in wastewater and aquatic environments. ‘Conventional’ water pollutants have been described for decades and their impact on human health and the environment are known; effective technologies for their removal are well established. This is not the case for most emerging contaminants: no effective removal technologies have been discovered to date, to simultaneously remove all of the concerned contaminants, even though some techniques have been demonstrated to remove some contaminants to a certain extent. Radiation processing using electron beam (EB) accelerators and gamma irradiators has shown promising results in many water-related applications. Radiation/EB processing is an additive-free process using short lived reactive species formed during radiolysis of water for decomposition of pollutants. Isolated studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of radiation, alone or in combination with other treatments, in the decomposition of refractory organic compounds in aqueous solutions and in the removal or inactivation, of microorganisms and parasites. This review paper on this specific technology summarizes results of reported applications.

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