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Removal of heavy metals from storm and surface water by slow sand filtration: the importance of speciation

journal contribution
posted on 09.07.2013, 11:11 authored by Nur Muhammad, Jeremy Parr, Michael Smith, Andrew Wheatley
The removal of heavy metals from storm and surface waters by slow sand filtration is described. The importance of speciation as a technique for exploring and improving the mechanisms of removal is identified. Laboratory-scale slow sand filters operating at conventional flow rate and depth were shown to be able to reduce concentrations of selected heavy metals (Cu, Cr, Pb and Cd) found in road runoff, surface water and sewage effluents to drinking water standard. Nitrogen, volatile solids and modified Stover speciation were used to differentiate between the potential mechanisms of removal, i.e. active biomass, organic adsorption and simple adsorption or precipitation on the surface of the sand. The data presented show that adsorption via organic ligands was the predominant mechanism for metal removal at the surface of the filter but chemical adsorption was the more important deeper in the filter. In the lower layers the adsorbed metals were more easily exchanged than the organically bound metals. The precise chemical ligands were not identified and varied from metal to metal. The most important operational factors affecting performance were therefore the concentration of organic matter, filter depth and the flow velocity.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)


MUHAMMAD, N. ... et al, 2005. Removal of heavy metals from storm and surface water by slow sand filtration: the importance of speciation. Urban Water Journal, 2 (1), pp. 33 - 37


© Taylor and Francis


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