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Healthcare Facility Effluents as Point Sources of Select Pharmaceuticals to Municipal Wastewater

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Effluents from four healthcare facilities were characterized for the concentration of 16 common active pharmaceutical ingredients. The sampled facilities included a hospital, nursing care, assisted living, and independent living facility located within a single municipal wastewater system in Texas. Eleven of the 16 monitored pharmaceuticals were detected in at least 1 healthcare facility effluent and 2 measured antibiotics (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) were detected in all 4 facility effluents. Active pharmaceutical ingredient concentrations ranged from non-detectable levels for several corticosteroids in all facility effluents to 180 µg/L sulfamethoxazole in the nursing care wastewater effluent. The mass of active pharmaceutical ingredients discharged to the municipality's wastewater conveyance system was determined by combining individual facility concentration data and daily wastewater flow. The estimated daily mass loading of all 16 pharmaceuticals ranged from 0.16 g/day to 23 g/day in the assisted living facility and nursing wastewater effluents, respectively. The combined active pharmaceutical ingredient mass loading for all four facilities was 42.6 g/day. These findings provide source characterization data for 16 common pharmaceuticals in healthcare facility wastewater and provide a basis for risk assessment of pharmaceuticals present in healthcare facility wastewaters.

Keywords: concentrations; healthcare facilities; mass loading; pharmaceuticals; wastewater effluents

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2012

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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