Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Metabolites of pharmaceuticals identified in wastewater

17.03.2006


University at Buffalo chemists have for the first time identified at wastewater treatment plants the metabolites of two antibiotics and a medial imaging agent.



The data, which the UB scientists will present tomorrow at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy being held in Orlando, will allow wastewater treatment plants to begin monitoring for these byproducts.

The results also reinforce concerns about excreted pharmaceutical compounds from wastewater systems that may end up in the water supply, potentially resulting in adverse effects for humans and the environment.


For example, antibiotics and their metabolites can significantly increase antibiotic resistance in the population. Synthetic hormones can act as endocrine disruptors, by mimicking or blocking hormones and disrupting the body’s normal functions.

The UB presentations will be made as part of a day-long symposium to be held March 16 on "Degradation and Treatment of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment." It will be chaired by Diana Aga, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences and leader of the UB team.

According to Aga, it has been only in the past five years that analytical-chemistry techniques have become sufficiently affordable and practical to allow researchers to detect pharmaceuticals and their metabolites efficiently at the parts-per-billion and parts-per-trillion range.

"Current wastewater treatment processes are optimized to reduce nitrates and phosphates and dissolved organic carbon, the major pollutants of concern in domestic wastes," said Aga. "However, treatment facilities don’t monitor or measure organic microcontaminants like residues of pharmaceuticals and active ingredients of personal care products."

Aga said that most previous studies looked for drugs’ active ingredients in treated wastewater.

"But now we are doing laboratory studies to characterize what these ingredients degrade into during wastewater processing," she added. "The lesson is that not detecting active ingredients in the effluent doesn’t mean the water is clean. The pharmaceuticals we monitored are not degraded completely in the treatment plants; most of them are just transformed into other compounds that still may have adverse ecotoxicological effects."

The UB researchers have identified the metabolites for sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, commonly prescribed antibiotics, and for a synthetic estrogen, a common ingredient in birth control pills and in hormone replacement therapy.

In research published in January in Analytical Chemistry, the UB chemists also found that iopromide, a pharmaceutical imaging agent that patients consume before taking MRI tests, is barely degraded in the conventional activated sludge process.

However, they found that when conditions in biological treatment systems are optimized for nitrogen removal, this imaging agent does degrade.

Aga said that these findings have important implications because it means that wastewater treatment processes can be optimized to remove persistent pharmaceuticals in wastewater.

The UB researchers obtained samples during fall and spring from local wastewater treatment plants in the Western New York towns of Amherst, East Aurora, Lackawanna, Tonawanda and Holland, representing suburban, urban and rural areas.

They sampled effluent before and after each water-treatment stage to examine relative efficiencies of each treatment process.

Aga noted that based on the team’s findings, a combination of biological, chemical and physical processing techniques probably will be the most successful to remove completely pharmaceutical compounds and their metabolites from wastewater.

"Originally, it was hoped that during the disinfection process, through chlorination or ultraviolet techniques, removal of the drugs that we studied would be enhanced, but, in fact, neither of these is effective," she said.

The researchers did find, however, that that most wastewater treatment processes are effective in significantly degrading some common antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin and tetracycline.

Ellen Goldbaum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>