John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé

SIPIBEL: a pilot site for studying hospital and urban sewage. Key lessons from five years of monitoring and research Ahead of print


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1 Groupe de recherche, d’animation technique et d’information sur l’eau (GRAIE)
66, boulevard Niels-Bohr
69100 Villeurbanne
2 Université de Lyon, INSA Lyon, laboratoire DEEP, EA 7429
34, avenue des Arts
69621 Villeurbanne cedex
75 bis, avenue de Corzent
74200 Thonon-les-Bains
4 UMR écologie microbienne, CNRS 5557, Inra 1418, UCBL - VetAgro Sup
Bâtiment principal, aile 3, 1er étage
69280 Marcy-l’Étoile
5 Université de Limoges, Faculté de médecine, UMR-Inserm 1092
2, rue du Dr-Marcland
87000 Limoges
6 Suez–Treatment Infrastructure
Wastewater Technical & Innovation Division
183, avenue du 18-Juin-1940
92500 Rueil-Malmaison
7 Université de Poitiers, ENSIP, UMR CNRS 7285, IC2MP
86073 Poitiers cedex
8 Université Paris Sud, université Paris-Saclay, UMR 8079, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Faculté de pharmacie
5, rue Jean-Baptiste-Clément
92290 Chatenay-Malabry
9 Université de Lyon, ENTPE, CNRS, UMR 5023 LEHNA
Rue Maurice-Audin
69518 Vaulx-en-Velin cedex
10 Université de Lyon, CNRS, université Claude-Bernard Lyon 1, ENS de Lyon, Institut des sciences analytiques, UMR 5280
5, rue de la Doua
69100 Villeurbanne
* Tirés à part
  • Key words: pharmaceuticals, risk assessment, strategy, treatment, wastewater
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2017.1074

SIPIBEL is a pilot site located on the Arve River in the French-Swiss catchment. SIPIBEL studies hospital and urban effluents, especially the micropollutants in care and hygiene products (residues of drugs, detergents, and biocides) and resistant bacteria. A monitoring system and research programs were developed to address this subject and answer three questions: (1) Does the separation of hospital effluent in the wastewater treatment plant optimize the treatment of hospital and urban effluents? (2) Do these effluents pose an environmental and/or health risk ? (3) What can be done to reduce the discharge of pharmaceuticals into the environment?

Stakeholders in this region worked with scientists on this pilot site to find answers to these questions. Over five years, SIPIBEL characterized 22 sampling points (raw and treated wastewater, Arve River, and Geneva aquifer), monitoring 130 parameters (physicochemical parameters including 15 pharmaceuticals, microbiological parameters, and bioassays) and compiling and qualifying more than 40,000 data items by January 2016. The monitoring revealed specific characteristics of hospital compared to urban effluent and made it possible to determine their treatability as well as the impact of the treated effluents on the aquatic environment. It also enabled us to answer the initial question, by showing that it is not useful to treat the hospital effluent separately here. These results allowed restoration of the “normal” situation in April 2016: hospital and urban effluents are now treated in a single treatment line. The studies and the research programs developed at SIPIBEL produced significant progress in knowledge and modeling of pharmaceutical residue flows in the sewage system, the effectiveness of the additional treatments by ozonation, greater understanding of what becomes of the micropollutants in the sewage sludge and in the aquatic environment and their impact on aquatic micro-organisms, the development of analytical tools, and the identification of ways to reduce the discharge of pharmaceuticals in the environment.