In the Netherlands, a technological cluster from the University of Twente will receive a million euro subsidy to develop a filter membrane together with other organizations and companies to filter residues of medicines from wastewater. That could also be useful for Aquafin.
After taking medicines, certain residues of them can pass through the urine into wastewater. It has not been proven that such micropollutants are harmful to humans after water purification, but they are harmful to fish, so Flemish purification company Aquafin closely follows everything. A 2017 Aquafin study found that “cortisone-containing compounds were not filtered out, but products that showed endocrine-disrupting effects in wastewater were.” Separate collection of waste water from Flemish hospitals and residential care centers is a possible way of reducing the concentrations of pharmaceutical residues. Post-purification with activated carbon or ozone, however, entails an extra cost.
New era of water purification
That is why Aquafin may also be looking at what is happening in the Netherlands now. There, a consortium of universities, a university of applied sciences, water boards, companies and water knowledge centers will work with a million euro subsidy to develop a new membrane that “efficiently removes harmful organic pollutants, including drug residues”. "Desired molecules, such as salts, are allowed to pass through." The membrane would usher in a new era of water treatment. “Here, the micropollutants are removed from the wastewater after regular water purification and immediately broken down biologically. If the process is successful, it can quickly lead to efficient technology that allows for almost complete removal of micropollutants from our wastewater ”, says the press release from Wageningen University, one of the partners in the consortium.