Efficiency of private household sand filters in removing nutrients and microbes from wastewater in Finland
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CitationMartikainen, Kati. Kauppinen, Ari. Matikka, Ville. Veijalainen, Anna-Maria. Torvinen, Eila. Pitkänen, Tarja. Miettinen, Ilkka T. Heinonen-Tanski, Helvi. (2018). Efficiency of private household sand filters in removing nutrients and microbes from wastewater in Finland. Water, 10 (8) , 1000. 10.3390/w10081000.
Sand filters have been shown to be an economic and effective solution for wastewater treatment in private households, although the removal of phosphorus (P) may be insufficient. However, P removal can be improved by adding a P-adsorbing material, such as biotite, into the sand filters. The physico-chemical characteristics and the microbial quality of the effluents of family-scale sand filters without adsorbing media (SF), sand filters with a biotite layer (B), and sand filters with a modular filter (MB) were followed for one year. Sand filters with a biotite layer displayed the highest capacity to remove nitrogen (N) and biological oxygen demand BOD7. The efficiency of these filters did not depend on the age of the filter or the season. The P load of the effluent did not differ between sand filters with and without a biotite layer, but the modular sand filter failed to adequately reduce P. The treatment efficiency of sand filters without biotite decreased with increasing age. These private household sand filters can be a good way to treat domestic wastewaters, since these generally comply with the minimum requirements of a Finnish Decree (157/2017). However, enteric viruses (noro- and adenoviruses) were commonly found in the effluents, and the numbers of Escherichia coli were often above 103 colony forming units (CFU) 100 mL−1 (limit for the the EU Bathing Water Directive 2006/7/EC) for good water quality), signifying a risk of microbial contamination of nearby drinking water wells, as well as bathing and irrigation waters.