Polyacrylamide preparations for protection of water quality threatened by agricultural runoff contaminants

James A. Entry, R. E. Sojka, Maribeth Watwood, Craig Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Waste streams associated with a variety of agricultural runoff sources are major contributors of nutrients, pesticides and enteric microorganisms to surface and ground waters. Water soluble anionic polyacrylamide (PAM) was found to be a highly effective erosion-preventing and infiltration-enhancing polymer, when applied at rates of 1-10 g m-3 in furrow irrigation water. Water flowing from PAM treated irrigation furrows show large reductions in sediment, nutrients and pesticides. Recently PAM and PAM+CaO and PAM+Al(SO4)3 mixtures have been shown to filter bacteria, fungi and nutrients from animal wastewater. Low concentrations of PAM [175-350 g PAM ha-1 as PAM or as PAM+CaO and PAM+Al(SO4) mixture] applied to the soil surface, resulted in dramatic decreases (10 fold) of total, coliform and fecal streptococci bacteria in cattle, fish and swine wastewater leachate and surface runoff. PAM treatment also filtered significant amounts of NH4, PO4 and total P in cattle and swine wastewater. This points to the potential of developing PAM as a water quality protection measure in combination with large-scale animal feeding operations. Potential benefits of PAM treatment of animal facility waste streams include: (1) low cost, (2) easy and quick application, (3) suitability for use with other pollution reduction techniques. Research on the efficacy of PAM for removal of protozoan parasites and viruses and more thorough assessment of PAM degradation in different soils is still needed to completely evaluate PAM treatment as an effective waste water treatment. We will present analysis and feasibility of using PAM, PAM+Al(SO4)3, and PAM+CaO application for specific applications. Our results demonstrate their potential efficacy in reducing sediment, nutrients and microorganisms from animal production facility effluents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Effluent treatment
  • Pollution reduction
  • Polyacrylamide (PAM)
  • Polymers
  • Water pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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