The presence of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and emerging contaminants (ECs) in our environment is a growing concern. We have previously discussed the removal of APIs from water in our blog post titled “Removal of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients/Emerging Contaminants in the Environment“. However, it is important to understand that the issue goes beyond APIs and ECs alone. Another category of compounds that requires careful attention due to their potential impact on the environment is Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals.
Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are the central components of drugs that produce the intended effects. They work in conjunction with excipients, which are chemically inactive substances that aid in the delivery of medications to the recipient’s system. Removal of APIs is a crucial function of industrial wastewater treatment facilities to prevent their discharge into the environment.
Emerging contaminants (ECs) are currently unregulated chemicals or have only recently come under regulation. There are concerns about the potential impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on human and ecological health. These contaminants encompass various types of chemicals, including disinfection by-products, household cleaning products, pharmaceutical and personal care products, persistent organic chemicals, and mercury, among others. Some of the emerging contaminants known to have harmful effects on the endocrine system are recognised as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The endocrine system plays a vital role in regulating the body’s healthy development and function throughout life. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals mimic, block, or interfere with the normal functioning of hormones in the body’s endocrine system, disrupting the interconnected hormone system in both humans and animals. These Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals typically do not exhibit acute toxicity at environmental levels but can disrupt the normal functioning and growth of exposed organisms at very low concentrations.
Despite conventional treatment methods such as activated sludge processes or disinfection techniques, residual levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals can persist in the effluent stream. Discharging effluent containing residual Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals into water bodies, such as rivers or lakes, can harm aquatic ecosystems. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals can disrupt the reproductive systems of aquatic organisms, impair their growth and development, and disturb their hormonal balance. This can result in reproductive abnormalities, impaired fertility, and reduced population numbers of affected species.
Furthermore, the presence of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in wastewater poses risks to human health. If treated wastewater is reused for irrigation or groundwater recharge, any Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals present may contaminate agricultural crops or drinking water sources. Prolonged exposure through these pathways can potentially lead to adverse health effects in humans, including disruptions in the endocrine system, hormonal imbalances, and reproductive disorders. Another challenge is the persistence of these chemicals in the environment. Some Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals are resistant to degradation or break down slowly, leading to their accumulation in soil, sediments, and aquatic environments over time. This persistence increases the likelihood of long-term exposure and the potential for bioaccumulation in organisms along the food chain, further amplifying the risks associated with Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals.
Addressing these issues requires comprehensive approaches to wastewater treatment. At Coftec, we collaborate with Arvia Technology Ltd, the developers of the Nyex Rosalox™ water treatment system. Nyex Rosalox™ offers targeted removal of organic pollutants in the range from mg/L to ppb using a combination of adsorption and oxidation. The benefits of Nyex Rosalox™ are extensively discussed in the video below.
A tertiary polishing step is an additional treatment process that is implemented before treated water is released into the environment. It serves as a final stage to further improve the quality of the water by removing any remaining contaminants or impurities. This step is typically employed after primary and secondary treatment processes, which may include physical and biological methods to remove solid particles, organic matter, and pathogens. Nyex Rosalox™ can serve as a tertiary polishing step before treated water is released into the environment. The technology is particularly effective in removing recalcitrant organics from manufacturing process waters and, most notably, active pharmaceutical ingredients from a wastewater stream.
The in-house design team at Coftec possesses the expertise and resources to seamlessly integrate this advanced technology into existing wastewater treatment systems, regardless of their current state. This integration can be done as a retrofit, which means incorporating the technology into the pre-existing infrastructure, upgrading, and enhancing its capabilities. Additionally, our design team is also capable of incorporating this technology into the newly constructed wastewater treatment infrastructure, ensuring that it becomes an integral part of the system from its initial implementation.
Contact us if you are designing a new facility or refurbishing, expanding, or upgrading an existing one to meet regulatory standards and let’s discuss how we can assist you with your project.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at +353 (0)91 844356, or submit an inquiry through our website. We are dedicated to providing effective and sustainable solutions for the removal of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and ensuring the protection of our environment and public health.