Semiconductor heterogeneous photocatalysis, the subject of this review, is a versatile, low-cost and environmentally benign treatment technology for a host of pollutants. These may be of biological, organic and inorganic in origin within water and air. The efficient and successful application of photocatalysis demands that the pollutant, the catalyst and source of illumination are in close proximity or contact with each other. The ability of advanced oxidation technology to remove low levels of persistent organic pollutants as well as microorganisms in water has been widely demonstrated and, progressively, the technology is now being commercialized in many areas of the world including developing nations. This review considers recent developments in the research and application of heterogeneous semiconductor photocatalysis for the treatment of low-level concentrations of pollutants in water and air using titanium dioxide as a "model" semiconductor. The review considers charge transport characteristics on the semiconductor surface, photocatalyst reactor design and organic degradation mechanistic pathways. The effects of photoreactor operating parameters on the photocatalytic process are discussed in addition to mineralization and disinfection kinetics. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.