Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 21, pp 21523–21535 | Cite as

Using H2O2 treatments for the degradation of cyanobacteria and microcystins in a shallow hypertrophic reservoir

  • Theodoti Papadimitriou
  • Konstantinos Kormas
  • Dionysios D. Dionysiou
  • Chrysi Laspidou
Research Article


Toxins produced by cyanobacteria in freshwater ecosystems constitute a serious health risk worldwide for humans that may use the affected water bodies for recreation, drinking water, and/or irrigation. Cyanotoxins have also been deemed responsible for loss of animal life in many places around the world. This paper explores the effect of H2O2 treatments on cyanobacteria and microcystins in natural samples from a hypertrophic reservoir in microcosm experiments. According to the results, cyanobacteria were more easily affected by H2O2 than by other phytoplanktonic groups. This was shown by the increase in the fractions of chlorophyll-a (a proxy for phytoplankton) and chlorophyll-b (a proxy for green algae) over total phytoplankton pigments and the decrease in the fraction of phycocyanin (a proxy for cyanobacteria) over total phytoplankton pigments. Thus, while an overall increase in phytoplankton occurred, a preferential decrease in cyanobacteria was observed with H2O2 treatments over a few hours. Moreover, significant degradation of total microcystins was observed under H2O2 treatments, while more microcystins were degraded when UV radiation was used in combination with H2O2. The combination of H2O2 and ultraviolet (UV) treatment in natural samples resulted in total microcystin concentrations that were below the World Health Organization limit for safe consumption of drinking water of 1 μg/L. Although further investigation into the effects of H2O2 addition on ecosystem function must be performed, our results show that the application of H2O2 could be a promising method for the degradation of microcystins in reservoirs and the reduction of public health risks related to the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.


H2O2 UV Microcystins Harmful algal blooms Reservoir Phycocyanin Phytoplankton pigments 



This study was supported by the research program LAKEREMAKE, which is implemented under the “ARISTEIA II” Action of the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” and is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and National Resources through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of ThessalyVolosGreece
  2. 2.Department of Ichthyology and Aquatic EnvironmentUniversity of ThessalyVolosGreece
  3. 3.Environmental Engineering and Science Program, Department of Biomedical, Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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