Fate of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment and in Water Treatment Systems

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Trace Analysis of Pharmaceutical Residues in Wastewater Treatment Plants in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This resulted in a list of micropollutants to be considered, their effects on recipients, sampling analyses strategies, selection of treatment technologies, and combinations to be further investigated. Selected micropollutants for further investigation, including pharmaceutical residues, microplastic, etc. Besides these techniques, there exist others such as advanced oxidation processes AOP applying UV-light in different combinations with, for example, hydrogen peroxide H 2 O 2 and titanium dioxide TiO 2. The initial evaluation of available technologies done in the project concluded that ozone alone can be considered at least as good as these combinations to remove a broad spectrum of compounds in a relatively simple process Baresel et al.

Therefore, techniques with a significantly higher cost and resource consumption have been excluded from further studies. The main sewage treatment for the pilot test were conventional active sludge CAS and membrane bioreactor MBR -systems. The only considered technology not investigated with pilot studies at the test site was the combination of powder activated carbon with UF. Based on the pilot test, several assessment studies for the various treatment options were carried out. These assessments included both environmental performance quantification, life cycle costs assessment, removal efficiency evaluation, implementation aspects, and flexibility towards a more sustainable adaption in future.


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Here, also removal efficiencies that could not be measured in the actual test have been included in the assessments if relevant data from other studies were available. Finally, these different actions were combined in a holistic assessment of available treatment alternatives based either on single techniques or on combinations to facilitate implementation decisions made on sound and holistic ground for a short- and long-term sustainable choice.

All relevant resources needed to construct, operate and dismantle a plant including materials, energy and chemicals used throughout the plant's life cycle were considered. More details on methods can be found in the technical project description Baresel et al. The economic evaluation was mainly based on five different plant sizes 2,, 10,, 20,, ,, and , and comprised the calculation of the total annual treatment costs, including both capital expenses CAPEX and operating expenses OPEX.

CAPEX consists of civil, mechanical and electrical costs, including the cost of installation. It further accounts for replacing consumables. OPEX includes energy and chemical costs for operation, manpower and maintenance costs. CAPEX and OPEX were based on actual designs of full-scale plants of the various plant sizes and from a number of different technology and consultancy providers. More details on methods can be found in Baresel et al. Some of these are ready to be implemented at WWTPs and have been chosen for further investigation, i. The other technologies need some substantial improvement in terms of cost reduction e.

UF and pulverised activated carbon PAC are not considered for further studies as they require an additional treatment step to achieve a significant removal of micropollutants. GAC is only considered as material in a biofilter as GAC-filter applied in wastewater treatment will act as such biofilter. The initial review also revealed analytical problems with today's methods, especially for the quantification of pharmaceuticals in wastewater.

This has a significant impact on our understanding of actual concentrations in wastewater which are underquantified to a significant extent and thus on various removal efficiency evaluations as in the studies mentioned above. The analytical techniques used to quantify micropollutants and detailed results from these actual tests, and associated assessment of the environmental and economic sustainability of the various treatment solutions and implementation aspects can be studied in the project reports.

Baresel et al. Results for all investigated plant sizes are combined but scale effects have to be considered. Both costs and environmental impacts decrease with increasing plant size. Energy and chemical use have been identified as main parameters determining the environmental impact. However, this impact may be generated onsite, e.


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  7. Treatment cost per treated cubic meter of wastewater, as shown in the table below, indicates that additional treatment for removal of micropollutants would only imply minor extra cost for WWTPs compared to current treatment costs of wastewater. While cost for alternatives including membranes are still more expensive than other techniques, both investment and operation cost for ultrafiltration have been decreasing significantly the past 10 years and are expected by the authors to decrease further.

    Overall characteristics and comparison of relevant treatment technologies for the removal of micropollutants. More details on removal efficiencies are provided in Table S1 available with the online version of this paper. One of the most significant results of the project is that the current focus on PPCPs may result in technology implementations at WWTPs that are only efficient in the short term.

    Ozonation has been identified as less efficient as activated carbon for some micropollutants Table S1, available with the online version of this paper but has long been pointed out as the most feasible solution for extra treatment of wastewater. This is mainly explained because ozonation at relevant ozone doses 0. Regarding the treatment cost, it also has to be considered that ozonation requires a biological polishing afterwards to remove the risk of the formation of toxic by products.

    The cost and environmental impacts of this extra treatment step are normally not included in evaluation of ozonation. This, however, may imply higher treatment cost and environmental impacts that have to be considered in relation to reduced emission of micropollutants.

    Another important outcome of the project is the evaluation of adaptability of various treatment techniques towards more sustainable operation considering technology advancements currently going on in order to reduce cost and environmental impacts of the additional treatment. For technologies comprising activated carbon both GAC and PAC , advances in producing biochar from different organic wastes can significantly reduce both costs and environmental impacts. The project used for example sludge from the WWTPs to produce biochar as filter material, which would reduce the environmental impact and cost of this treatment system significantly.

    Keywords Diclofenac residues ; Sanitation ; sewage treatment ; Solid phase extraction ; High performance ; liquid chromatography References Aga D. Neto M. F, Ferreira A. Interfacehs 2 4 , Al Aikido M. Monitoring release of pharmaceutical compounds: occurrence and environmental risk assessment of two WWTP effluents and their receiving rivers in the Po Valley, Italy. Science of Total Environment , Fent K. Ecotoxicology of human pharmaceuticals. Aquatic Toxicology 76, Palomo M. Analysis of diclofenac sodium and derivatives. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 21 1 , Baumgarten S.

    Evaluation of advanced treatment technologies for the elimination of pharmaceutical compounds.

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    The Occurrence of Veterinary Pharmaceuticals in the Environment: A Review

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