Seleniferous agricultural drainage wastewater has become a new major source of pollution in the world. In the USA, large areas of farmland in 17 western states, generate contaminated salinized drainage with Se concentrations much higher than 5 ??g/l, the US Environmental Protection Agency water-quality criterion for the protection of aquatic life; Se values locally reach 4200 ??g/l in western San Joaquin Valley, California. Wetland habitats receiving this drainage have generally shown Se toxicosis in aquatic birds causing high rates of embryonic deformity and mortality, or have indicated potential ecological damage. Results of our laboratory flow experiments indicate that nanofiltration, the latest membrane separation technology, can selectively remove > 95% of Se and other multivalent anions from > 90% of highly contaminated water from the San Joaquin Valley, California. Such membranes yield greater water output and require lower pressures and less pretreatment, and therefore, are more cost effective than traditional reverse osmosis membranes. Nanofiltration membranes offer a potential breakthrough for the management of Se contaminated wastes not only from agricultural drainage, but from other sources also.
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Removal of selenium from contaminated agricultural drainage water by nanofiltration membranes