A comparative study of coagulation, granular- and powdered-activated carbon for the removal of perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoate in drinking water treatment
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) are persistent organic pollutants in the environment and their occurrence causes toxicological effects on humans. We examined different conventional coagulant treatments such as alum, ferric chloride and polyaluminium chloride in removing these compounds. These were then compared with a natural coagulant (Moringa oleifera). We also investigated the powdered-activated carbon (PAC) and granular-activated carbon (GAC) for removing these compounds. At an initial dose of 5 mg/L, polyaluminium chloride led to a higher reduction of PFOS/PFOA compared with alum which in turn was higher than ferric. The removal efficiency increased with the increase in coagulant dose and decrease in pH. M. oleifera was very effective in reducing PFOS and PFOA than conventional coagulants, with a reduction efficiencies of 65% and 72%, respectively, at a dose of 30 mg/L. Both PAC and GAC were very effective in reducing these compounds than coagulations. PAC led to a higher reduction in PFOS and PFOA than GAC due to its greater surface area and shorter internal diffusion distances. The addition of PAC (10 min contact time) with coagulation (at 5 mg/L dosage) significantly increased the removal efficiency, and the maximum removal efficiency was for M. oleifera with 98% and 94% for PFOS and PFOA, respectively. The reduction efficiency of PFOS/PFOA was reduced with the increase in dissolved organic concentration due to the adsorption competition between organic molecules and PFOS/PFOA.