Bank filtration offers a cost effective and low maintenance technique for the removal of cyanobacterial hepatotoxins from drinking water. For bank filtration to be effective, the toxins must be degraded. The broad aim of this research was to determine whether the hepatotoxins, nodularin and microcystin-LR, could be completely removed from the soil/water matrix of three soils by microbial degradation. The results indicated that complete toxin removal was possible within 10-16 d in 2/3 soils that were incubated in the dark at 20°C. The soils with the highest organic carbon content (2.9%) and the highest clay content (16.1%) were the most effective at removing the toxins in batch experiments. However, the sandy soil (98.5% sand) was incapable of degrading either toxin. The half-lives of toxin losses due to adsorption, desorption and degradation were calculated and for all soils. The degradation process had the highest half-life for both toxins. This suggested that degradation was likely to be the rate-limiting step of complete toxin removal. It was concluded that when a bank filtration site was being chosen, the degradation potential and the textural properties of the riverbank soil would be important when considering complete removal of cyanobacterial hepatotoxins.

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