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Impacts of Disinfection on Pharmaceutical Compounds

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A new class of emerging contaminants of concern has been documented to be present in environmental samples (surface and ground waters) and within water and wastewater treatment plants. These include a number of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and recently were reported to be present potable water supplies. As more analytical methods that can detect these contaminants in environmental samples are developed, studies directed at understanding the environmental occurrence, ecological and human health effects, and treatment methods are being conducted. Literature reviews of the most recent research on water quality and management aspects of occurrence surveys, fate investigations, treatment methodologies, biological effects, and/or toxicity/risk assessment are being compiled.

Research projects and monitoring programs have shown that some PPCP compounds are incidentally removed by conventional water and wastewater treatment processes, particularly sorption, biological decomposition, and chemical oxidation, which may remove or alter the structure of organic PPCPs. Incidental oxidation during chlorine based disinfection processes could remove some of these compounds or alter their structures, particularly analgesics such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Treating these compounds through an enhancement of the disinfection processes, by creating an advanced oxidation process (AOP) can be an effective removal mechanism; in fact, UV and ozone based disinfection processes, if modified to operate as AOP, have been reported to be effective at altering and/or removing some PPCPs. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of basic physicochemical characteristics of a select group of pharmaceuticals as an example of how these characteristics can be used to identify optimal treatment mechanisms and methods.

Keywords: Disinfection; UV disinfection; advanced oxidation processes; ozone; pharmaceuticals

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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