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Superabsorbent polymer as a supplement substrate of constructed wetland to retain pesticides from agricultural runoff
Water Research  (IF11.236),  Pub Date : 2021-10-16, DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117776
Yuying Jing, Martin Krauss, Simon Zschieschang, Anja Miltner, Andrii Butkovskyi, Trine Eggen, Matthias Kästner, Karolina M. Nowak

Surface water runoff can export pesticides from agricultural fields into adjacent aquatic ecosystems, where they may pose adverse effects to organisms. Constructed wetlands (CWs) are widely used to treat agricultural runoff contaminated by pesticides, but the removal of hydrophilic pesticides is usually low. In this study, we suggest superabsorbent polymer (SAP), a cross-linked hydrophilic polymer, as a supplement to substrates of CWs and tested the hypothesis that SAP results in an enhanced removal of hydrophilic pesticides. Therefore, batch experiments were conducted to study the retention capacity of water-saturated SAP (w-SAP) for several hydrophilic pesticides. Retention of the pesticides on w-SAP was related to the ionization state and water solubility of the pesticides. The retention of neutral pesticides, imidacloprid, metalaxyl and propiconazole, was about 20% higher than that measured for anionic pesticides, bentazone, glyphosate and MCPA. The retention of the pesticides by w-SAP mainly resulted from their distribution in the gel-water phase of w-SAP, while less water soluble pesticides might have also been adsorbed on the molecular backbone of SAP. Furthermore, we tested the efficacy of w-SAP for treatment of runoff water contaminated by pesticides in lab-scale horizontal subsurface flow CWs. SAP in CWs improved the removal of the pesticides, including the recalcitrant ones. The removal enhancement was owing to the increase of hydraulic retention time and improvement of biodegradation. The removal of the pesticides in SAP containing CWs was > 93% for MCPA, glyphosate, and propiconazole, 62 – 99% for imidacloprid, 50 – 84% for metalaxyl, and 38 – 73% for bentazone. In the control gravel CWs, the removal was > 98% for glyphosate, generally > 83% for MCPA and propiconazole, 46 – 98% for imidacloprid, 32 – 97% for metalaxyl, and 9 – 96% for bentazone.