Enhancement of a constructed wetland water treatment system for selenium removal

Qiang Zhao, Jung Chen Huang, Shengbing He, Weili Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Selenium (Se) is essential to most animals, whereas the gap between necessity and toxicity is narrow. Our previous work showed constructed wetlands were a promising solution to Se contamination in aquatic habitats. This study further examined effects of organic amendments and hydrologic regimes on Se removal by constructed wetlands. Our results suggest the removal efficiency exceeded 94% within 8 days for the systems with moderate and low organic carbon contents in the substrate, as a 98% removal of Se was obtained in three weeks for the system subjected to the 2-day wet/dry cycle. To mimic field wetlands, a litter layer was added to the cattail treatment system, which reduced waterborne Se much more rapidly than control, achieving a 77% removal of Se within 4 days. XAS results show all sediment Se was transformed to Se0 in the presence of litter, as SeMet (47%) dominated the Se adsorbed by the litter. The findings indicate the Se removal capacity of a constructed wetland would improve over time, especially via Se volatilization into the atmosphere and Se stabilization in the sediment with litter accumulating at the surface. Another mesocosm experiment showed the cattail floating system effectively removed Se, particularly selenate, by 99% in 48 h. To confirm that high performance, seven constructed wetland types were set up for comparison. The results show the cattail floating system was most effective in Se removal (93–100% at around 35 °C in summer and 51–100% at about 5 °C in winter). More research is needed to test the floating system under more field conditions and investigate the biomagnification and biotransformation of the removed Se along food chains. Seven constructed wetland types were set up for comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136741
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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