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Treatment of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients at Publicly Owned Treatment Works

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has compiled a comprehensive database on the environmental properties of a large number of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature. The database includes a substantial amount of peer-reviewed data showing the effectiveness of the treatment technologies used at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) for removal of APIs.

The published data for secondary (biological) treatment are primarily from activated sludge-type processes. Most APIs evaluated are removed to some extent by conventional secondary biological treatment, and greater than 75% removal is achieved for 26 percent of the APIs in the secondary treatment database.

Nanofiltration and reverse osmosis remove essentially 100% of the APIs for which data are available. These processes must be preceded by secondary treatment and micro- or ultrafiltration to achieve these essentially complete removals of APIs.
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Keywords: POTW discharges; Pharmaceuticals; microconstituents; surface water discharges; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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