ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: January 19, 2022

Recent advancements in water treatment

Generating clean, safe water is becoming increasingly difficult. Water sources themselves can be contaminated, but in addition, some purification methods can cause unintended harmful byproducts to form. And not all treatment processes are created equal with regard to their ability to remove impurities or pollutants. Below are some recent papers published in ACS journals that report insights into how well water treatment methods work and the quality of the resulting water. Reporters can request free access to these papers by emailing

“Drivers of Disinfection Byproduct Cytotoxicity in U.S. Drinking Water: Should Other DBPs Be Considered for Regulation?”
Environmental Science & Technology
Dec.15, 2021

In this paper, researchers surveyed both conventional and advanced disinfection processes in the U.S., testing the quality of their drinking waters. Treatment plants with advanced removal technologies, such as activated carbon, formed fewer types and lower levels of harmful disinfection byproducts (known as DBPs) in their water. Based on the prevalence and cytotoxicity of haloacetonitriles and iodoacetic acids within some of the treated waters, the researchers recommend that these two groups be considered when forming future water quality regulations.

“Complete System to Generate Clean Water from a Contaminated Water Body by a Handmade Flower-like Light Absorber”
ACS Omega
Dec. 9, 2021
As a step toward a low-cost water purification technology, researchers crocheted a coated black yarn into a flower-like pattern. When the flower was placed in dirty or salty water, the water wicked up the yarn. Sunlight caused the water to evaporate, leaving the contaminants in the yarn, and a clean vapor condensed and was collected. People in rural locations could easily make this material for desalination or cleaning polluted water, the researchers say.

“Data Analytics Determines Co-occurrence of Odorants in Raw Water and Evaluates Drinking Water Treatment Removal Strategies”
Environmental Science & Technology
Dec. 2, 2021

Sometimes drinking water smells foul or “off,” even after treatment. In this first-of-its-kind study, researchers identified the major odorants in raw water. They also report that treatment plants using a combination of ozonation and activated carbon remove more of the odor compounds responsible for the stink compared to a conventional process. However, both methods generated some odorants not originally present in the water.

“Self-Powered Water Flow-Triggered Piezocatalytic Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species for Water Purification in Simulated Water Drainage”
ACS ES&T Engineering
Nov. 23, 2021

Here, researchers harvested energy from the movement of water to break down chemical contaminants. As microscopic sheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) swirled inside a spiral tube filled with dirty water, the MoS2 particles generated electric charges. The charges reacted with water and created reactive oxygen species, which decomposed pollutant compounds, including benzotriazole and antibiotics. The researchers say these self-powered catalysts are a “green” energy resource for water purification.


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