Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals?
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TOPIC: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals?

Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 28 May 2014 00:10 #8750

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I am in discussion with a land owner who is considering building a set of homes that are net zero in water (and energy).

Net zero in water means both capturing rainwater for filtering and drinking as well as processing own nutrients (fecal and urine) for re-utilization on the land.

Might someone have any research you could point me to on the health and safety of such systems, as well as the ability to process pharmaceuticals?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Best,
David Burdick

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land-including pharmaceuticals? 28 May 2014 06:49 #8751

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(I assume this is not a developing country context, right?)

In regards to rainwater as drinking water: With a good treatment system (UF membrane with active carbon adsorption and UV disinfection) you should be fine unless situated near a major industrial area.

Application of fecal or septic sludge ("biosolids") on land is highly regulated in most countries. You will need to check the individual laws. If these are followed and the sludge is treated accordingly you should be fine too (especially if the land is not used for growing food). You will probably want to minimize run-off and nutrient leaching to protect the environment.

Pharmaceuticals are a huge group of different substances with different break-down times and effectiveness concentrations. I don't think one can really make general statements about their fate in sludge applied to land.
Very generally speaking their breakdown is governed by time, temperature and microbial activity. Thus thermophilic composting should reduce their concentration quite significantly.
Krischan Makowka
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” - Buckminster Fuller

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land-including pharmaceuticals? 28 May 2014 18:26 #8768

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Hi JK Makowka,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, that is a correct assumption, it is a "developed" country (USA).

Might you have references to studies that support your helpful assertions?

It would be helpful to this client.

Cheers
David

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land-including pharmaceuticals? 28 May 2014 18:41 #8769

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David, I suspect you'd be best talking to your local regulators and/or getting professional advice from a waste consultant who is aware of the legal situation in your jurisdiction.

I think it is very unlikely that a compost windrow would break down all pharma chemicals which could possibly be present in fecal sludge, but I've never seen any research on it. Again, if you want papers on this, maybe you should approach an academic who has been working on it in North America.
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
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Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land-including pharmaceuticals? 29 May 2014 08:47 #8770

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Dear David,

If you are mainly concerned about pharmaceutical residues in reuse systems, and you are searching for literature on this topic, then start with the name of Martina Winker who did her PhD thesis on this topic (with a focus on urine, but as urine as part of wastewater, it should still be relevant for you):

susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktype...p;type=2&id=1007

Winker, M. (2009). Pharmaceutical residues in urine and potential risks related to usage as fertiliser in agriculture. PhD thesis, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Hamburg, Germany. Hamburger Berichte zur Siedlungswasserwirtschaft Nr. 67.

If you look at her reference list and also check which authors have referenced her thesis since then (which you can do with any of the academic or scholarly search software/websites), then you will easily find the current literature on this topic.

You might also find some publications of relevance by searching for Winker or for SANIRESCH in the SusAnA library (SANIRESCH was a demonstration project in Germany from 2009-2012, which we have spoken about on the forum in other posts as well, use the search field on the top menu bar at the right if you want to bring up the other posts).

www.susana.org/library?search=winker
www.susana.org/library?search=saniresch

I hope this helps. Do keep us informed of how you get on in those discussions. Where in the US is it? Oregon?

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 02 Jun 2014 23:24 #8835

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Thank you Elizabeth, for these references. Very helpful. This report nicely discusses uptake levels of pharmaceuticals from Urine. It concludes with the fact that there are some pharmaceuticals that do not bio-degrade and thus may bio-accumulate. Now to investigate what is considered toxic and dangerous levels for both fecal matter after composting and urine after 3 month storage. Any recent investigation on this is appreciated.

Best
David

ps attached is a file from the Recode.org of a composting study by T.F. Guerin: Abstract below. This may want to be put into the SUSANA library.

Co-composting of pharmaceutical wastes in soil T.F. GUERIN. 2001.

Aims: Soils at a commercial facility had become contaminated with the pharmaceutical
chemical residues, Probenecid and Methaqualone, and required remediation.
Methods and Results: Soil composting was investigated as an alternative to incineration for treatment. In laboratory trials, a factorial experimental design was used to evaluate organic matter amendment type and concentration, and incubation temperature. In pilot scale trials, Probenecid was reduced from 5100 mg kg±1 to < 10 mg kg±1 within 20 weeks in mesophilic treatments. An 8 tonne pilot scale treatment con®rmed that thermophilic composting was effective under ®eld conditions. In the full-scale treatment, 180 tonnes of soil were composted. Initial concentrations of the major contaminants in the full-scale compost treatment were 1160 mg kg±1 and 210 mg kg±1, for Probenecid and Methaqualone, respectively. Probenecid concentration reached the target level of 100 mg kg±1 in 6 weeks, and removal of Methaqualone to < 100 mg kg±1 was achieved after 14 weeks.

Conclusions: Co-composting was effective in reducing soil concentrations of Probenecid and Methaqualone residues to acceptable values.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Co-composting is a technology that has application
in the remediation of pharmaceutical contaminants in soil.


++++++++
Note by moderator: This article is available for free on line: If you search for it in Google Scholar, you find the Wiley Online Library link:
onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.14...ssential+maintenance
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Last Edit: 03 Jun 2014 11:26 by muench.

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 12 Jun 2014 10:24 #8941

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Dear David,

Personally, I would not be scared about pharmaceutical residues from treated wastewater when it's applied on land (rather than discharged into surface water). But I don't have any particular publications at hand (other than what I mentioned above). It could be that the research on this was limited in the past because it is pretty expensive to analyse samples for pharmaceutical residues (and, as Kris pointed out, there are so many of them, each requiring their own test (?) - or one could once again take "indicator substances", like those that are either most common or most difficult to degrade - which is what Martina Winker did in her research).

However, if someone wants to be extra safe, then I guess you could add a treatment step to remove these substances from your treated wastewater before applying this wastewater to land for irrigation purposes.

I just came across an article about removing pharmaceutical residues from wastewater. Actually, I think there must be lots and lots of articles out there (for large wastewater treatment plants), but as this one happened to cross my path and as it's using activated carbon it struck me that this could also be feasible at a small, decentralised scale (household scale?) and therefore might be of interest to you.

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Water Science & Technology Vol 69 No 11 pp 2372–2380 © IWA Publishing 2014 doi:10.2166/wst.2014.172
www.iwaponline.com/wst/06911/wst069112372.htm

Activated carbon for the removal of pharmaceutical residues from treated wastewater

Mats Ek, Christian Baresel, Jörgen Magnér, Rune Bergström and Mila Harding

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd, P.O. Box 210 60, SE-100 31 Stockholm, Sweden E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ABSTRACT
Pharmaceutical residues, which pass naturally through the human body into sewage, are in many cases virtually unaffected by conventional wastewater treatment. Accumulated in the environment, however, they can significantly impact aquatic life. The present study indicates that many pharmaceutical residues found in wastewater can be removed with activated carbon in a cost-efficient system that delivers higher resource utilisation and security than other carbon systems. The experiment revealed a substantial separation of the analysed compounds, notwithstanding their relatively high solubility in water and dissimilar chemical structures. This implies that beds of activated carbon may be a competitive alternative to treatment with ozone. The effluent water used for the tests, performed over 20 months, originated from Stockholm's largest sewage treatment plant. Passing through a number of different filters with activated carbon removed 90–98% of the pharmaceutical residues from the water. This paper describes pilot-scale tests performed by IVL and the implications for an actual treatment plant that has to treat up to several thousand litres of wastewater per second. In addition, the advantages, disadvantages and costs of the method are discussed. This includes, for example, the clogging of carbon filters and the associated hydraulic capacity limits of the activated carbon.

Keywords: complementary water treatment; effluent water; granulated activated carbon (GAC); pharmaceutical residues; toxicity

+++++++++

By the way, Detlef also posted about a constructed wetland to remove pharmaceutical residues here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/36-con...by-university-bremen

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Last Edit: 12 Jun 2014 10:24 by muench.
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Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 12 Jun 2014 21:37 #8951

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Dear David,
On the pharmaceuticals + wastewater/greywater you may contact Dr. DOBNER of University Bremen very direct as Elisabeth recommended too. I found him very resourceful.

During an other official sanitation workshop in the past I asked in public one German scientist on the issue:
Do you know about comparing researches on risks for ordinary people by pharmaceuticals in wastewater: a) coming from domestic sources and b) coming from large industrial meet productions, spread both separate on food producing land?
Answer: NO
I could not belief in this...


I guess you are touching this very sensitive issue (euphemistic) too and will have difficulty to get "endorsed" honest information/answers about.

But keep trying it. Please let us know about your results, bad one too.

good luck Detlef
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Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 17 Jun 2014 07:38 #8982

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Thank you Detlef,
Yes, I am not finding a plethora of information out there. But haven't begun to scratch the surface. There is some interesting resources also at www.recode.org. Your reference is helpful. Thank you.
David

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 17 Jun 2014 07:46 #8983

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Thank you Elisabeth,
This is helpful! I am glad to know there is research out there which takes out the pharmaceuticals. The paper you quote is not available for the general public, but will write to the Swedish Environmental Research Institute to see if I may get a copy.
Thank you again for your interest in this.
Cheers
David
ps I wonder where the used activated charcoal, with its pharmaceuticals, eventually go???

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 17 Jun 2014 08:28 #8984

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I wonder where the used activated charcoal, with its pharmaceuticals, eventually go???

99,99% together with others burned in power stations, for the "air-benefit" of many by "blending" with air and other exhaust...

Regeneration (this means just renting ac for the customer) would makes more sense as the production of ac is highly energy consuming, but new ac makes more direct profits for the supplier as fossil energy use is highly subsidized (at least in Germany).

for ac regeneration see: www.carbon-service.de/regeneration_en.htm
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Last Edit: 17 Jun 2014 08:58 by AquaVerde.

Re: Research on the health and safety of grey and wastewater utilization on the land - including pharmaceuticals? 24 Jun 2014 18:00 #9059

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correction on website. its www.recodeoregon.org/.
cheers
David
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