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Title: Wetland Removal Mechanisms for Emerging Contaminants
In recent decades, previously unobserved trace compounds have become more widely detected in wastewater treatment effluents and freshwater ecosystems. Emanating from various sources and presenting potential human health and ecological risks at much lesser concentrations than traditional contaminants, detection of “emerging contaminants” has increased with improvements in analytical techniques. The behavior of emerging contaminants in wetlands is a topic of increasing interest, as natural wetlands are known to transform and sequester pollutants and constructed or treatment wetlands are widely utilized to address elevated concentrations of constituents of concern. Both natural and constructed wetlands are complex biogeochemical systems with interrelated abiotic and biotic mechanisms leading to the removal of emerging contaminants. A literature review was performed to assess the current state of knowledge of various wetland mechanisms involved in removing these contaminants from surface waters and effluents. The primary mechanisms discussed in the literature are sorption, photodegradation, microbial biodegradation and phytoremediation. The most influential mechanisms are dependent on the properties of the contaminants and wetland systems studied. Common trends exist for different constructed wetland designs to leverage various mechanisms based on hydrology, substrate and vegetation plantings. Much remains to be understood about the various processes occurring in wetlands as they relate more » to emerging contaminant removal. Improving the understanding of the potential role of wetland mechanisms can help manage this environmental challenge more effectively. « less
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