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A Practical Approach for Treatment of APIs and EDCs from Pharmaceutical Wastewater

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Effective treatment of wastewater from pharmaceutical manufacturing operations containing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) has become a serious concern. Some of these APIs may also be Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs). Molecular weights and molecular structures of APIs and EDCs are very important factors in the selection of an effective treatment strategy. Molecular weights of EDCs generally fall within the range of 150 to 800 Daltons. Most EDCs and APIs would pass through Nanofiltration (NF) and Ultrafiltration (UF) membranes. Microbes normally present in the biological treatment processes are also unable to breakdown the molecular structures of most EDCs and APIs for use as substrate. As a result, most APIs and EDCs pass through the biological treatment processes. Molecular structures of organic compounds can be broken down by a suitable advanced oxidation process. Microbes may then be able to use these broken down organic compounds as food source. A combination of membrane filtration, advanced oxidation and biological treatment can be effective in treatment and removal of many APIs and EDCs. This paper will present and discuss the effectiveness of a new treatment system used in Sweden for treating API wastewater. Through Bench-Scale testing and Pilot-Scale testing a combination of membrane filtration, advanced oxidation with Fenton's Reagent and Moving Bed Bio-Film Reactor (MBBR) treatment was found to be effective for treatment of antibacterial compounds present in the API wastewater. Details of Bench-Scale and Pilot-Scale testing, design, start-up and operations of this system are presented.

Keywords: API; Advanced; Biological Treatment; EDC; Fenton's Reagent; MBBR Treatment; Nanofiltration; Reverse Osmosis; Ultrafiltration

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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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