Project - Environmentally friendly treatment of highly potent pharmaceuticals in hospital wastewater - Mermiss

Caroline Kragelund Rickers

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Project - Environmentally friendly treatment of highly potent pharmaceuticals in hospital wastewater - Mermiss

Mermiss - MUDP project 2014

Project start April 2014. Expected completion February 2017.

Final report

Danish hospitals are currently facing a great challenge, as they have to comply with requests for reduced pharmaceutical discharge. A list of maximum permissible value for the discharge of certain pharmaceuticals is being prepared. However, robust technology still has to be developed in order to remove the problematic substances from the wastewater. Another challenge is that most Danes take their medicine at home (>95%). Therefore, large amounts of pharmaceuticals are discharged to the wastewater, which is treated at the local wastewater plant. An effort is being made to develop a technology that can be used to treat the wastewater of pharmaceuticals coming directly from the hospitals as well as at already existing wastewater treatment plants as an additional polishing step.

The applied technology is based on the Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) technology followed by chemical oxidation. Advantage is taken of slowly growing bacteria that are retained in biofilm as such bacteria can convert essential medicine that appears in low concentrations. After the biological treatment process, the residual pharmaceuticals will be removed by adding ozone and hydrogen peroxide.

The objective of this project is to develop the MBBR-technology through chemical oxidation to efficiently remove highly potent pharmaceuticals that is present in the wastewater. Three types of treatment concepts will be dealt with:

  • All wastewater from the hospital (main stream)
  • Only wastewater from problematic departments (sub-stream)
  • Polishing step at wastewater treatment plant

In addition, an assessment will be made of where and how treatment is most environment and financially efficient.