Polyacrylamide degradation and its implications in environmental systems

Boya Xiong, Rebeca Dettam Loss, Derrick Shields, Taylor Pawlik, Richard Hochreiter, Andrew L. Zydney, Manish Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


High molecular weight (106–3 × 107 Da) polyacrylamide (PAM) is commonly used as a flocculant in water and wastewater treatment, as a soil conditioner, and as a viscosity modifier and friction reducer in both enhanced oil recovery and high volume hydraulic fracturing. These applications of PAM can result in significant environmental challenges, both in water management and in contamination of local water supplies after accidental spills. This paper provides a short review of current applications of high molecular weight PAM, including the potential for PAM degradation by chemical, mechanical, thermal, photolytic, and biological processes. Methods for treating wastewater containing partially degraded PAM are then discussed along with issues related to the potential toxicity and mobility of PAM in the environment after disposal or accidental release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
Journalnpj Clean Water
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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