In this study we investigated total and hexavalent chromium removal in an h-SSF constructed wetland (CW) planted with Phragmites australis and operating as post-treatment of effluent wastewater from an activated sludge plant serving the textile industrial district of Prato (Italy). Two measurement campaigns were carried out in 2006 and 2008–2010 in which more than 950 inlet and outlet samples were analyzed. When inlet and outlet concentrations were compared one to the other, the latter were found to be significantly lower than the former (p < 0.001); during the entire period of investigation, removal of hexavalent chromium equal to about 70% was achieved. Outlet concentrations ranged between values lower than the quantification limit (0.5 μg L−1) and 4.5 μg L−1, and in all cases were therefore lower than the limit indicated for hexavalent chromium in the Italian regulation for water reuse (5 μg L−1). The comparison of the removal efficiencies achieved for hexavalent and trivalent chromium during the two campaigns suggested that the removal of the former can be sustained in the long term, while for the latter, the treatment efficiency is more sensitive to the age of the CW, being that it is it based on trivalent chromium retention in the reed bed.

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