Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 36474–36484 | Cite as

Removal of micro-pollutants from urban wastewater by constructed wetlands with Phragmites australis and Salix matsudana

  • Alessandra Francini
  • Lorenzo Mariotti
  • Simona Di GregorioEmail author
  • Luca Sebastiani
  • Andrea Andreucci
Research Article


This study assessed the ability to remove micro-pollutants from wastewater using herbaceous species (Phragmites australis L.) and trees (Salix matsudana Koidz.) in constructed wetland (CW) systems. The targets of the study were as follows: (i) pharmaceuticals like diclofenac, ketoprofen, and atenolol; (ii) 4-n-NP (4-n-nonylphenol) and the ethoxylated derivatives monoethoxylated nonylphenol (NP1EO) and diethoxylated nonylphenol (NP2EO); (iii) triclosan, a bactericide used in personal care products. The 12 CW systems, filled with clay and gravel, were irrigated with wastewater from municipal area of Pagnana (Tuscany, Italy) and influent and effluent water samples analyzed periodically by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS). The removal efficiency of CWs planted with willow and common red ranged from 8.4 up to 100%, with the higher removal efficiency for triclosan. On the contrary, the removal efficiency of NPs and NPEOs appears lower than pharmaceuticals. Data demonstrated that P. australis efficiently removed NP, diclofenac, and atenolol, while S. matsudana preferentially removed NP1EO, NP2EO, ketoprofene, and triclosan. A specific selection of plants used in CWs could be exploited for the removal of specific xenobiotics from wastewater.


Atenolol Common reed Diclofenac Ketoprofen Nonylphenols Removal efficiency Triclosan Willow 


Funding information

This research project has been co-funded by the Department of Biology University of Pisa and Acque Spa.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3582_MOESM1_ESM.docx (476 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 475 kb)


  1. Bartha B, Huber C, Schröder P (2014) Uptake and metabolism of diclofenac in Typha latifolia—how plants cope with human pharmaceutical pollution. Plant Sci 227:12–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Briggs GG, Bromilow RH, Evans AA (1982) Relationships between lipophilicity and root uptake and translocation of non-ionised chemicals by barley. Pestic Sci 13:495–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Commission Regulation (EU) (2016) amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards nonylphenol ethoxylates (Text with EEA relevance)Google Scholar
  4. Cuklev F, Fick J, Cvijovic M, Kristiansson E, Forlin L, Larsson DGJ (2012) Does ketoprofen or diclofenac pose the lowest risk to fish? J Hazard Mater 229:100–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Di Gregorio S, Giorgetti L, Ruffini M, Castiglione M, Mariotti L, Lorenzi R (2015) Phytoremediation for improving the quality of effluents from a conventional tannery wastewater treatment plant. Int J Environ Sci Technol 12:1387–1400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dordio AV, Estêvão Candeias AJ, Pinto AP, Teixeira da Costa C, Carvalho AJP (2009) Preliminary media screening for application in the removal of clofibric acid, carbamazepine and ibuprofen by SSF-constructed wetlands. Ecol Eng 35:290–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dordio AV, Gonçalves P, Texeira D, Candeias AJ, Castanheiro JE, Pinto AP, Carvalho AJP (2011) Pharmaceuticals sorption behaviour in granulated cork for the selection of a support matrix for a constructed wetlands system. Int J Environ Anal Chem 91:615–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ebele AJ, Abdallah MAE, Harrad S (2017) Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the freshwater aquatic environment. Emerging Contaminants 3:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. European Parliament and Council. (2008) Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on Environmental Quality Standards in the Field of Water Policy, Amending and Subsequently Repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and Amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council; 2008/105/EC; European Parliament and Council: Strasbourg, FranceGoogle Scholar
  10. Garcia-Rodríguez A, Matamoros V, Fontàs C, Salvadó V (2015) The influence of Lemna sp. and Spirogyra sp. on the removal of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors in treated wastewaters. Int J Environ Sci Technol 12:2327–2338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goldstein M, Shenker M, Chefetz B (2014) Insights into the uptake processes of wastewater-borne pharmaceuticals by vegetables. Environ Sci Technol 48(10):5593–5600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hijosa-Valsero M, Matamoros V, Sidrach-Cardona R, Martin-Villacorta J, Becares E, Bayona JM (2010) Comprehensive assessment of the design configuration of constructed wetlands for the removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products from urban wastewaters. Water Res 44:3669–3678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hollender J, Singer H, Mcardell A (2008) Polar organic micropollutants in the water cycle. In: Hlavinek P (ed) Dangerous pollutants (xenobiotics) in urban water cycle: proceedings of the NATO advanced research workshop on dangerous pollutants (xenobiotics) in urban water cycle. Lednice, Czech RepublicGoogle Scholar
  14. Iori V, Zacchini M, Pietrini F (2013) Growth, physiological response and phytoremoval capability of two willow clones exposed to ibuprofen under hydroponic culture. J Hazard Mater 262:796–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kasprzyk-Hordern B, Dinsdale RM, Guwy AJ (2009) The removal of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, endocrine disruptors and illicit drugs during wastewater treatment and its impact on the quality of receiving waters. Water Res 43:363–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Koh YKK, Lester JN, Scrimshaw M (2005) Fate and behavior of alkylphenols and their polyethoxylates in an activated sludge plant. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 75:1098–1106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kotyza J, Soudek P, Kafka Z, Vanĕk T (2010) Phytoremediation of pharmaceuticals-preliminary study. Int J Phytoremediation 12(3):306–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Langford KH, Lester JN (2002) Fate and behaviour of endocrine disrupters in wastewater treatment processes. In: Brikett JW, Lester JN (eds) Endocrine disrupters in wastewater and sludge treatment processes. CRC Press Inc, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee B-H, Scholz M (2007) What is the role of Phragmites australis in experimental constructed wetland filters treating urban runoff? Ecol Eng 29:87–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marmiroli M, Pietrini F, Maestri E, Zacchini M, Marmiroli N, Massacci A (2011) Growth, physiological and molecular traits in Salicaceae trees investigated for phytoremediation of heavy metals and organics. Tree Physiol 31:1319–1334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Matamoros V, Bayona JM (2006) Elimination of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in subsurface flow constructed wetlands. Environ Sci Technol 40:5811–5816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Matamoros V, Arias C, Brix H, Bayona JM (2007) Removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) from urban wastewater in a pilot vertical flow constructed wetland and a sand filter. Environ Sci Technol 41:8171–8177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Michelini L, Reichel R, Werner W, Ghisi R, Thiele-Bruhn S (2012) Sulfadiazine uptake and effects on Salix fragilis L. and Zea mays L. plants. Water Air Soil Pollut 223:5243–5257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miege C, Choubert JM, Ribeiro L, Eusèbe M, Coquery M (2009) Fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater treatment plants—conception of a database and first results. Environ Pollut 157(5):1721–1726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miller EL, Nason SL, Karthikeyan KG, Pedersen JA (2016) Root uptake of pharmaceuticals and personal care product ingredients. Environ Sci Technol 50(2):525–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pierattini EC, Francini A, Raffaelli A, Sebastiani L (2016a) Morpho-physiological response of Populus alba to erythromycin: a timeline of the health status of the plant. Sci Total Environ 569–570:540–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pierattini EC, Francini A, Raffaelli A, Sebastiani L (2016b) Degradation of exogenous caffeine by Populus alba and its effects on endogenous caffeine metabolism. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(8):7298–7307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pierattini EC, Francini A, Huber C, Sebastiani L, Schröder P (2018a) Poplar and diclofenac pollution: a focus on physiology, oxidative stress and uptake in plant organs. Sci Total Environ 636:944–952CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pierattini EC, Francini A, Raffaelli A, Sebastiani L (2018b) Surfactant and heavy metal interaction in poplar: a focus on SDS and Zn uptake. Tree Physiol 38(1):109–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Prášková E, Štěpánová S, Chromcová L, Plhalová L, Voslářová E, Pištěková V, Prokeš M, Svobodová Z (2013) The effects of subchronic exposure to ketoprofen on early developmental stages of common carp. Acta Vet Brno 82:343–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sabourin L, Duenk P, Bonte-Gelok S, Payne M, Lapen DR, Topp E (2012) Uptake of pharmaceuticals, hormones and parabens into vegetables grown in soil fertilized with municipal biosolids. Sci Total Environ 431:233–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Samaras VG, Thomaidis NS, Stasinakis AS, Lekkas TD (2011) An analytical method for the simultaneous trace determination of acidic pharmaceuticals and phenolic endocrine disrupting chemicals in wastewater and sewage sludge by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 399:2549–2561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schröder P, Meier H, Debus R (2005) Detoxification of herbicides in Phragmites australis. Z Naturforsch 60:317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sjöström ÅE, Collins CD, Smith SR, Shaw G (2008) Degradation and plant uptake of nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol-12-ethoxylate (NP12EO) in four contrasting agricultural soils. Environ Pollut 156:1284–1289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Soares A, Guieysse B, Jefferson B, Cartmell E, Lester JN (2008) Nonylphenol in the environment: a critical review on occurrence, fate, toxicity and treatment in wastewaters. Environ Int 34:1033–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stevens KJ, Kim SY, Adhikari S, Vadapalli V, Venables BJ (2009) Effects of triclosan on seed germination and seedling development of three wetland plants: Sesbania herbacea, Eclipta prostrata, and Bidens frondosa. Environ Toxicol Chem 28(12):2598–2609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Victor KK, Séka Y, Norbert KK, Sanogo TA, Celestin AB (2016) Phytoremediation of wastewater toxicity using water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes). Int J Phytoremediation 18(10):949–955CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wu X, Conkle JL, Gan J (2012) Multi-residue determination of pharmaceutical and personal care products in vegetables. J Chrom A 1254:78–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Xiaoyan T, Suyu W, Yang Y, Ran T, Dai Yunv A, Li DL (2015) Removal of six phthalic acid esters (PAEs) from domestic sewage by constructed wetlands. Chem Eng J 275:198–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yang L, Li Z, Zou L, Gao H (2011) Removal capacity and pathways of phenolic endocrine disruptors in an estuarine wetland of natural reed bed. Chemosphere 83:233–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zarate FM Jr, Schulwitz SE, Stevens KJ, Venables BJ (2012) Bioconcentration of triclosan, methyl-triclosan, and triclocarban in the plants and sediments of a constructed wetland. Chemosphere 88:323–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang DQ, Hua T, Gersberg RM, Zhu J, Ng WJ, Tan SK (2012) Fate of diclofenac in wetland mesocosms planted with Scirpus validus. Ecol Eng 49:59–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhang DQ, Hua T, Gersberg RM, Zhu J, Ng WJ, Tan SK (2013) Fate of caffeine in mesocosms wetland planted with Scirpus validus. Chemosphere 90:1568–1572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhang D, Gersberg RM, Ng WJ, Tan SK (2014) Removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in aquatic plant-based systems: a review. Environ Pollut 184:620–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Life SciencesScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture, Food, and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

Personalised recommendations