One of the growing environmental and health concerns is the increasing levels of pharmaceuticals waste. A recent report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that the production and diversification rates of pharmaceuticals exceed those of commonly known environmental challenges such as the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Large portion of these complex compounds is discharged to the environment as waste. Most of the discharged pharmaceuticals end up in the wastewater treatment systems.
Pharmaceuticals are designed to be stable, and hence it is hard to degrade them using common chemical or biological treatment techniques applied in wastewater treatment plants. Although wastewater microbes are unable to degrade pharmaceuticals, they can develop resistance against them. The resistance genes can then travel with treated water and transfer to other microbes. This eventually renders pharmaceuticals ineffective driving the need for manufacturing new classes of chemicals. Additionally, the discharged resistant microbes and residual pharmaceuticals pose a serious threat to human health and the environment.
In order to break this vicious cycle, we propose the use of a combination of membrane filtration with advanced oxidation techniques for breaking down pharmaceuticals and producing clean water. The combined advanced oxidation techniques aided by free radicals enhancers make our solution an effective way to overcome this problem.