Implications for public health demands alternatives to inorganic and synthetic flocculants: bioflocculants as important candidates

Microbiologyopen. 2016 Apr;5(2):177-211. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.334. Epub 2016 Feb 24.


Chemical flocculants are generally used in drinking water and wastewater treatment due to their efficacy and cost effectiveness. However, the question of their toxicity to human health and environmental pollution has been a major concern. In this article, we review the application of some chemical flocculants utilized in water treatment, and bioflocculants as a potential alternative to these chemical flocculants. To the best of our knowledge, there is no report in the literature that provides an up-to-date review of the relevant literature on both chemical flocculants and bioflocculants in one paper. As a result, this review paper comprehensively discussed the various chemical flocculants used in water treatment, including their advantages and disadvantages. It also gave insights into bioflocculants production, challenges, various factors influencing their flocculating efficiency and their industrial applications, as well as future research directions including improvement of bioflocculants yields and flocculating activity, and production of cation-independent bioflocculants. The molecular biology and synthesis of bioflocculants are also discussed.

Keywords: Bioflocculants; chemical flocculants; environmental pollution; industrial applications; molecular biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Flocculation
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Inorganic Chemicals* / adverse effects
  • Inorganic Chemicals* / chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemicals* / classification
  • Ions / chemistry
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Molasses
  • Nitrogen / chemistry
  • Organic Chemicals* / adverse effects
  • Organic Chemicals* / chemistry
  • Organic Chemicals* / classification
  • Public Health*
  • Temperature
  • Wastewater / chemistry
  • Water Purification*


  • Inorganic Chemicals
  • Ions
  • Metals
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Waste Water
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen