Background Organic Matter (BOM) preloading is adsorption of BOM onto Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) prior to the adsorption of target compounds, such as pesticides and other organic micropollutants (e.g. atrazine). BOM preloading is commonly found to speed up the breakthrough of target compounds during GAC filtration. Ozonation of GAC filter influent may be expected to lower BOM preloading, because it results in less adsorbable and more biodegradable BOM compounds. Short Fixed Bed (SFB) tests with virgin and preloaded GAC, performed within this study, confirmed that preloading of BOM present in pretreated river Rhine water speeds up the breakthrough of atrazine in GAC filters. BOM preloading was found to lower equilibrium adsorption capacity of GAC for atrazine, and to slow down both external and internal mass transfer rate of atrazine on/into GAC. Adsorption capacity of (crushed) GAC was determined from atrazine adsorption isotherms, while mass transfer rate coefficients were determined by fitting the Homogeneous Surface Diffusion model to the breakthrough of atrazine in the SFB tests. More pronounced BOM preloading was found in the GAC filter receiving non-ozonated influent than in its ozonated counterpart. Biodegradation of ozonated BOM was shown to lower BOM preloading in GAC filters.

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