Heavy metal pollution in the aquatic environment: efficient and low-cost removal approaches to eliminate their toxicity: a review

Hama Aziz, K.H.; Mustafa, F.S.; Omer, K.M.; Hama, S.; Hamarawf, R.F.; Rahman, K.O.

RSC Advances 13(26): 17595-17610


ISSN/ISBN: 2046-2069
PMID: 37312989
Accession: 090299684

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Heavy metal contamination of water sources has emerged as a major global environmental concern, threatening both aquatic ecosystems and human health. Heavy metal pollution in the aquatic environment is on the rise due to industrialization, climate change, and urbanization. Sources of pollution include mining waste, landfill leachates, municipal and industrial wastewater, urban runoff, and natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, weathering, and rock abrasion. Heavy metal ions are toxic, potentially carcinogenic, and can bioaccumulate in biological systems. Heavy metals can cause harm to various organs, including the neurological system, liver, lungs, kidneys, stomach, skin, and reproductive systems, even at low exposure levels. Efforts to find efficient methods to remove heavy metals from wastewater have increased in recent years. Although some approaches can effectively remove heavy metal contaminants, their high preparation and usage costs may limit their practical applications. Many review articles have been published on the toxicity and treatment methods for removing heavy metals from wastewater. This review focuses on the main sources of heavy metal pollution, their biological and chemical transformation, toxicological impacts on the environment, and harmful effects on the ecosystem. It also examines recent advances in cost-effective and efficient techniques for removing heavy metals from wastewater, such as physicochemical adsorption using biochar and natural zeolite ion exchangers, as well as decomposition of heavy metal complexes through advanced oxidation processes (AOPs). Finally, the advantages, practical applications, and future potential of these techniques are discussed, along with any challenges and limitations that must be considered.