Of recent concern is the removal of toxic compounds in wastewaters, soils, and groundwater to concentrations in the low microgram per litre level or less. Threshold limits to bioremediation exist and must be considered in biological treatment schemes to achieve such limits. These limits may be related to reaction kinetics or thermodynamics. Techniques for removing compounds below threshold levels exist that rely on appropriate approaches such as plug flow treatment. Novel biological methods exist for removal of refractory contaminants to low levels. Examples are provided for removal of trace levels of chlorinated solvents, such as tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), that employ dehalorespiration under anaerobic conditions or cometabolism under aerobic conditions. These approaches are currently being used in engineered systems or through natural attenuation for remediation of soils and groundwater. Successful results offer insights for similar removals of trace chemicals in both aerobic and anaerobic biological systems for treatment of wastewaters and sanitary landfills.
P.L. McCarty; Novel biological removal of hazardous chemicals at trace levels. Water Sci Technol 1 December 2000; 42 (12): 49–60. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2000.0238
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