John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Drug residues and treatment of hospital effluent Volume 5, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2006


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Eau de Paris DqE 9, rue Schoelcher 75014 – Paris

Residues of drugs for humans and animals are found throughout the world. Nonetheless it was only very recently that we were able to assay these compounds, thus proving their presence. This has drawn the attention of environmental managers to their interactions with aquatic fauna and flora and of local water users to issues of drinking water production. These compounds come from sewage treatment plants, livestock farm discharges, and runoff water from manured soils. While sewage treatment plants were not designed to eliminate these compounds, many compounds are nonetheless eliminated either by absorption or biodegradation. Nonetheless some molecules pass through these different barriers and are found in natural environments. Some are discharged mainly from healthcare facilities (hospitals, clinics). After reviewing all of the techniques usable to segregate or transform these molecules, we propose that sites at high risk (healthcare facilities) should segregate their waste at the source to avoid the dilution that hampers effective water purification. Separation of urine is a promising pathway since these residues are found preferentially in urine. At this level and in view of the low volumes, sophisticated complex treatments can be implemented: inverse osmosis and very high-temperature destruction of concentrates, for example.