06 April 2010

Students Design Innovative Wastewater Treatment Process for Removing Pharmaceuticals

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Ryerson University Chemical Engineering students have discovered a potential solution to the rising levels of pharmaceuticals ending up in the water supply, particularly worrisome around hospitals and long-term care facilities, where pharmaceutical use is heavy

The foursome has designed an advanced wastewater treatment system which would remove 90 per cent of pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) using commercially available technology. Currently no such sewage treatment plant exists in North America.

At a time when tap water is being hailed as the environmentally responsible choice over bottled water, the amount of pharmaceutical medications making their way into the water supply through improper disposal and bodily elimination warrants some concern. As part of their final-year undergraduate project, Kirill Cheiko, Reuben Fernandes, Charles Gilmour and Pawel Kita used research data from academic and industry sources to design an award-winning simulated wastewater treatment plant to deal with the potentially harmful waste.

“In Canada, the government doesn’t enforce the removal of pharmaceutical drugs and EDCs, including Bisphenol A, from wastewater. As a result, municipalities don’t currently pursue removal, since it would incur extra expense,” said Cheiko. “That said, it could also potentially reduce health-care costs.”

(Innovations Report)

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