The Effects of Ferric Sulfate (Fe 2(SO 4) 3) on the Removal of Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins: A Mesocosm Experiment

Toxins (Basel). 2021 Oct 23;13(11):753. doi: 10.3390/toxins13110753.


Cyanobacterial blooms are a global concern. Chemical coagulants are used in water treatment to remove contaminants from the water column and could potentially be used in lakes and reservoirs. The aims of this study was to: 1) assess the efficiency of ferric sulfate (Fe2(SO4)3) coagulant in removing harmful cyanobacterial cells from lake water with cyanobacterial blooms on a short time scale, 2) determine whether some species of cyanobacteria can be selectively removed, and 3) determine the differential impact of coagulants on intra- and extra-cellular toxins. Our main results are: (i) more than 96% and 51% of total cyanobacterial cells were removed in mesocosms with applied doses of 35 mgFe/L and 20 mgFe/L, respectively. Significant differences in removing total cyanobacterial cells and several dominant cyanobacteria species were observed between the two applied doses; (ii) twelve microcystins, anatotoxin-a (ANA-a), cylindrospermopsin (CYN), anabaenopeptin A (APA) and anabaenopeptin B (APB) were identified. Ferric sulfate effectively removed the total intracellular microcystins (greater than 97% for both applied doses). Significant removal of extracellular toxins was not observed after coagulation with both doses. Indeed, the occasional increase in extracellular toxin concentration may be related to cells lysis during the coagulation process. No significant differential impact of dosages on intra- and extra-cellular toxin removal was observed which could be relevant to source water applications where optimal dosing is difficult to achieve.

Keywords: coagulation; cyanobacteria; cyanobacterial blooms; cyanotoxins; ferric sulfate; mesocosms; microcystins; water treatment.