Removal of water pollutants with green algae

Title: Removal of water pollutants with green algae

InvestigatorsDr. Qunxing Ding (College of Arts and Sciences), Dr. Xiaozhen Mou (College of Arts and Sciences) and Dr. Haiyan Zhu  (College of Arts and Sciences)

Polluted water is one of the leading factors that induce a wide range of diseases, especially in children. Currently about 45% of streams, 40% of rivers, 47% of lakes, and 32% of bays in the U.S. are polluted, making them unsuitable for drinking, swimming, fishing, and aquatic life. The sources of pollution can be agricultural, industrial, and biological activities. For example, eutrophic growth of cyanobacteria induces contamination of cyanotoxins. Water treatment can also introduce toxic chemicals like trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and bromodichloromethane, which are cancer inducers. These pollutants bring serious challenges to the environment and human health. Eutrophication is a significant sign of water pollution due to increased nitrogen and phosphorus in the water. Although both green algae and cyanobacteria proliferate due to eutrophication, green algae do not produce toxins, and can be used in bioremediation and the production of biofuels and dietary supplements. For example, unicellular green algae were adopted to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, and the resulting algal biomass was used for biofuel production, with minimal costs for construction and operation.