State University of New York Institute of Technology
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Pharmaceutical Products in Wastewater


Pharmaceuticals are a part of persons every day modern life; people are prescribed medicines ranging from the benign and common Tylenol or aspirin to controlled substances such as Oxycoton. The biggest question a person usually has once they are done with the medication is how do I dispose of it? All to often that answer comes in the form a trip down the drain to a local wastewater treatment plant.


One of the largest problems when treating water and wastewater today is the presence of pharmaceuticals. One may think that removing medicine from water is easy, but contrary to popular belief it is extremely difficult.


The difficulty in removing drugs of any nature from wastewater comes in the structure; each drug has a different chemical and physical makeup. Most plants implement a combination of different filters and techniques to try and combat the increasing presence of drugs in wastewater. Such technologies include ozonation, activated carbon, and tight membrane filtration.


While existing technologies are being used to treat wastewater now, future technologies will need to be developed to help and prevent the concentrations of various pharmaceuticals to dangerous levels.

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