WASSER and GAS BERLIN 2006 from 3 to 7 April - Experts discuss the issue of pharmaceutical residues in water

Mar 09, 2006

In addition to pathogenic micro-organisms, purified municipal water also contains a number of organic trace materials resulting from residential, commercial and industrial use. In past years particular attention has been paid to active pharmaceutical ingredients, endocrine disruptive compounds (EDCs) and other substances that are the product of everyday processes. Because it originates from so many different sources, elimination of the pollution resulting from municipal sewage systems is only conceivable or possible in certain special cases.

The subject of "Pharmaceutical residues in water" will be dealt with by the water chemistry experts of the Wasserchemische Gesellschaft e.V. at the international congress WASSER BERLIN 2006 from 3 to 7 April.

It is evident that the biological purification method used by sewage works is incapable of removing a number of trace materials that are either very difficult or even impossible to eradicate, and this very much the case with the types of polar matter that are not deposited in sewage sludge. Consequently the discharges from sewage plants are major sources of water-borne pollution, both at individual sites and from the material being transported. More recent studies have shown that eco-toxological effects cannot be ruled out with some pharmaceuticals and EDCs, and that a few representatives of this category can make their way into drinking water as a result of filtration through banks and the recharging of groundwater. Given these conditions one solution would be to find a suitable method for carrying out improved and more extensive sewage purification.

Ozonisation at the Ruhleben sewage treatment works in Berlin
Oxidation of treated water to disinfect it and to remove and convert organic trace materials (pharmaceuticals) has been carried out in a pilot plant at the Ruhleben sewage works as part of the PILOTOX research project. At the conclusion of the 13-month pilot project at the end of August 2005 it was apparent that the additional process of ozonisation can render much of the human pharmaceuticals that find their way into the sewage harmless. These also include antibiotics, the widespread use of which is producing multi-resistant bacteria. This more extensive disinfection is being carried out in the sewage works to prevent the possibility of this resistance occurring in water too. Working together with the Berlin Waterworks, Prof. Martin Jekel of the Technical University Berlin, found that ozonisation only increases the cost by between 2 and 4 cents per cubic metre of water.

Mobile and persistent organic substances in the water cycle
Wasserchemische Gesellschaft e.V. will be dealing with the subject of “Mobile and persistent organic substances in the water cycle” on 4 April at the congress WASSER BERLIN 2006. The discussions will focus on the action of human pharmaceutical residues in the urban water cycle and the question of what hazards to groundwater are presented by persistent veterinary pharmaceuticals in the soil. Comparisons will be made with polar pollutants in sewage, between those that are difficult to degrade in conventional sewage treatment and those treated using membrane bio-reactors. The conference will also carry out an international comparison of risk assessments of pharma-ceuticals and will examine the question of whether traces of biocides and corrosion inhibitors in the water cycle can be avoided. The meeting will conclude with the "Removability of polar trace substances in the treatment of drinking water".

WASSER BERLIN 2006 is taking place simultaneously with GAS BERLIN from 3 to 7 April 2006 on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. Over 600 exhibitors and more than 60,000 visitors from some 60 countries are expected to attend the two trade fairs, the accompanying congress, numerous partner events and the interactive display "WASsERLEBEN".



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