Pharmaceuticals and pesticides in secondary effluent wastewater: Identification and enhanced removal by acid-activated ferrate(VI) Academic Article uri icon


  • The emergence of resistance to antibacterial drugs and pesticides in water is unprecedented. This may have adverse consequences to human health and ecological systems. This paper first sought the identification of a wide range of pharmaceuticals and pesticides in two secondary effluent wastewaters (SEW) of different quality characteristics, followed by their removal by ferrate(VI) (Fe(VI), FeO42-). Screening for 22 pharmaceuticals and 32 pesticides, revealed that 11 pharmaceuticals and 3 pesticides in SEW of plant A, and 14 pharmaceuticals and 5 pesticides in SEW of plant B were present at concentrations higher than the liquid chromatography mass spectrometry method quantitation limit. The concentrations of pharmaceuticals and pesticides ranged from 0.15 ng/L-413.03 ng/L. Investigation of the removal of these pharmaceuticals and pesticides by Fe(VI) showed that some had recalcitrant activity towards their oxidation. Acid-activated Fe(VI) resulted in enhanced oxidation (12.6%-56.2% degradation efficiency) of 6 and 7 pharmaceuticals in SEW of plant A and plant B, respectively, at a shorter time than Fe(VI) without activation (i.e. 3-5 min versus 15-30 min). The degradation of 1 and 3 pesticides in SEW of plant A and plant B respectively, has also been enhanced by activating Fe(VI) (13.8%-86.2% degradation efficiency). Results on testing of organic matter characterization of treated SEW with and without acid-activated Fe(VI) treatment are also presented. Acid-activated Fe(VI) treatment has potential in enhancing the removal of micropollutants in real wastewater.

altmetric score

  • 7.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Manoli, K., Morrison, L. M., Sumarah, M. W., Nakhla, G., Ray, A. K., & Sharma, V. K.

citation count

  • 44

publication date

  • January 2019