Degradation of pharmaceuticals in waste water treatment plants

SWEDISH SUMMARY: Finns det läkemedelsrester i det slam som lämnar reningsverket? Kan det bildas skadliga nedbrytningsprodukter under reningen som i sin tur kan spridas i miljön med vatten eller slam? Region Skåne visar i ett pågående forskningsprojekt att det sker en omfattande nedbrytning av läkemedel i reningsverken, och att endast en liten del återfinns i slammet. Forskningen fortsätter nu med att identifiera vilka nedbrytningsprodukter som bildas och var de återfinns.

Are there any pharmaceuticals residues in the sludge from waste water treatment plants? Are degradation products (or transformation products) formed which are toxic to the environment, and where (in sludge or in the water effluent) are these degradation products found?

These are some questions in a research project conducted by Region Skåne (”The Skåne County Council” in the southern parts of Sweden). The firsts results are presented now, and it is evident that extensive degradation is taking place during the waste water treatment process. And since the concentration of any pharmaceutical residues in the sludge is low according to the results, the research will now focus on identifying transformation/degradation products, and investigate whether they are to be found in the sludge or in the water effluent.

You can also listen to the researcher Estelle Larsson (and read her comments on the website) via this link to Radio P4 Malmöhus.

I am looking forward to see the results from the new project phase. This work together with other initiatives in the field (e.g. MistraPharma) are important in order to understand potential risks, and to decide upon mitigation measures if necessary.

For more information on pharmaceuticals and waste water treatment see for instance the following blog posts: Sept 21 2012, Aug 17 2012, April 27 2012, March 14 2012, and Oct 29 2010,


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