Escherichia coli removal in biochar-modified biofilters: Effects of biofilm

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Abstract

The presence of microbial contaminants in urban stormwater is a significant concern for public health; however, their removal by traditional stormwater biofilters has been reported as inconsistent and inadequate. Recent work has explored the use of biochar to improve performance of stormwater biofilters under simplified conditions that do not consider potential effects of biofilm development on filter media. The present study investigates the role of biofilm on microbial contaminant removal performance of stormwater biofilters. Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms were formed in laboratory-scale sand and biochar-modified sand packed columns, which were then challenged with Escherichia coli laden synthetic stormwater containing natural organic matter. Results suggests that the presence of biofilm influences the removal of E. coli. However, the nature of the influence depends on the specific surface area and the relative hydrophobicity of filter media. The distribution of attached bacteria within the columns indicates that removal by filter media varies along the length of the column: the inlet was the primary removal zone regardless of experimental conditions. Findings from this research inform the design of field-scale biofilters for better and consistent performance in removing microbial contaminants from urban stormwater.

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Afrooz, A. R. M. N., & Boehm, A. B. (2016). Escherichia coli removal in biochar-modified biofilters: Effects of biofilm. PLoS ONE, 11(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167489

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