Ecotoxicological assessment of dewatered drinking water treatment residue for environmental recycling

Nannan Yuan, Changhui Wang, Laura A. Wendling, Yuansheng Pei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The beneficial recycle of drinking water treatment residue (DWTR) in environmental remediation has been demonstrated in many reports. However, the lack of information concerning the potential toxicity of dewatered DWTR hinders its widespread use. The present study examined the ecotoxicity of dewatered aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) DWTR leachates to a green alga, Chlorella vulgaris. Data from the variations of cell density and chlorophyll a content suggested that algal growth in DWTR leachates was inhibited. The algal cellular oxidation stress was initially induced but completely eliminated within 72 h by antioxidant enzymes. The expression of three photosynthesis-related algae genes (psaB, psbC, and rbcL) also temporarily decreased (within 72 h). Moreover, the algal cells showed intact cytomembranes after exposure to DWTR leachates. Further investigation confirmed that inhibition of algal growth was due to DWTR-induced phosphorus (P) deficiency in growth medium, rather than potentially toxic contaminants (e.g. copper and Al) contained in DWTR. Interestingly, the leachates could potentially promote algal growth via increasing the supply of new components (e.g. calcium, kalium, magnesium, and ammonia nitrogen) from DWTR. In summary, based on the algae toxicity test, the dewatered Fe/Al DWTR was nontoxic and its environment recycling does not represent an ecotoxicological risk to algae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2252
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Technology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • algae
  • Dewatered drinking water treatment residue
  • ecotoxicity
  • leachates
  • recycling


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