CES - Contaminants, Ecosystèmes, Santé

Degradation and transfer of polyacrylamide based floculents in sludges and industrial and natural waters - Potential impact on aquatic ecosystem – AquaPOL

Submission summary

Flocculants are widely used in several industrial fields (mineral extracting, chemical industry, food processing industry, treatment of drinking water) to enhance solid/liquid separation in water containing suspended matter. In France, mineral extracting industry is one of the major users of flocculants. The use of flocculants enables to increase the recycling rate of process water and to decrease sludge volumes, and thus the surface of settling impoundments. Those impoundments are open systems with possible exchanges into the near environment (water percolation towards the aquifers, water seepages in natural stream or rivers…), which can lead to the dissemination of flocculants into surface water and groundwater. The question of flocculants innocuousness is now arising as a new environmental issue. The flocculants which are calling into question are composed of polyacrylamide, a polymer synthetised from acrylamide and acrylic acid. The final product contains residual amount of acrylamide which is classified as a carcinogenic (level 2), mutagenic (level 2) and reprotoxic (level 3) compound. The environmental issue does not concern the polyacrylamide, which is not known as a toxic compound, but the acrylamide and the products of polyacrylamide degradation. Although industrialists and administrative authorities in charge of environment protection regard the use of flocculants as an important environmental matter, there is no scientific and multidisciplinary study which can help them to take appropriate measures to prevent potential impact on the ecosystems. In this context, the global objective of “AquaPol” project is to study the behaviour of acrylamide, polyacrylamide and products of polyacrylamide degradation in process and natural waters and their impacts on the balance of aquatic ecosystems. The effort will be put on the particular case study of the mineral extracting industry. It is an applied research project which associates various scientific fields: metrology, process engineering, geochemistry, microbiology, eco-toxicology, and hydrogeology. The heart of this project will be based upon in situ characterisation of the dissemination of polyacrylamide, acrylamide and products of polyacrylamide degradation in connexion with the physical, chemical, microbiological and hydrogeological properties of the studied environments. This study will be surrounded by a global environmental evaluation of flocculants use in the mineral extracting industry, analytical developments, an eco-toxicological study, a laboratory characterisation of transfer and degradation mechanisms and the development of bio-hydrogeochemical model. One of the main purposes is to bring to flocculants users and administrative authorities the scientific basis which can enable them to implement the appropriate measures to prevent potential environmental damages linked to the use of flocculants.

Project coordinator

Anne Gwénaelle GUEZENNEC (BUREAU DE RECHERCHES GEOLOGIQUES ET MINIERES - BRGM)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

UNION NATIONALE DES PRODUCTEURS DE GRANULAT
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE CENTRE POITOU-CHARENTES
UNIVERSITE DE NICE - SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS
CENTRE NATIONAL DU MACHINISME AGRICOLE, DU GENIE RURAL, DES EAUX ET DES FORETS - CEMAGREF
BUREAU DE RECHERCHES GEOLOGIQUES ET MINIERES - BRGM

Help of the ANR 550,073 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2010 - 36 Months

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