The proliferation of drug residue in our waterways has become an increasingly challenging health hazard, one that until now has seen no large scale solution, other than educating the public to dispose of unused medications properly.
Researchers from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed technology that apparently keeps drug residue from getting into wastewater, preventing it from entering our waterways. The technology utilizes a process known as membrane distillation. In this,liquid water passes through a microporous membrane similar to Goretex in the form of water vapor. Once on the other side of that membrane, the vapor moves across an air gap, then condenses on a collecting plate, thus returning to its liquid state. Antidepressants in the unfiltered liquid are unable to pass through the membrane, so they end up collecting on its liquid, “dirty” side.
Pharmaceutical residues in wastewater have been found to alter fish behavior. The study also indicated that the release of anti-anxiety drugs can affect entire ecosystems in a waterway, possibly contributing to an increase or decrease in algae growth.
A large-scale membrane distillation system has been set up at KTH’s Hammarby Sjöstadsverket water treatment test facility. Analysis is pending as research continues with increased levels of pharmaceutical residue.
Filed under: Breaking news, Health concerns Tagged: | algae, drugs, drugs in our water, ecosystems, environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, membrane distillation, pharmaceuticals, science, technology, wastewater, waterways