In surface waters, the concentration of pharmaceuticals increases, which enter the human body with drinking water. Environmental scientists have found a way to clean drinking water from harmful drug residues.
Clean drinking water is considered one of the most endangered and valuable resources on Earth.
Removing hazardous micro-pollutants of various origins from water remains a challenge. In a study published in Environmental Research, scientists studied the use of new and effective water treatment methods to eliminate two micro-pollutants: sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. Both substances are antibiotics and are widely used to treat diseases of the lungs and kidneys, both in veterinary medicine and in medicine.
Using the high oxidizing power of radicals is considered the most effective tool for removing micro-pollutants from water through mineralization. Extended oxidation processes can be classified in different ways, but they are mainly divided into categories based on the source of free radicals. Typically oxidants used to form their radicals include hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) and ozone (O₃). In recent years, alternative oxidants such as persulfate (PS) have been increasingly used.
“In our research, we focused on ozone. Namely, in the combined processes of ozone with hydrogen peroxide (O₃ / H₂O₂) and ozone with persulfate (O₃ / PS). The latest technology is just a promising solution in the field of radical oxidation processes for water purification. The effectiveness of the O₃ / PS process in degrading antibiotic residues in water has not been previously studied, and our results are very promising, ”explains Niina Dulova, a senior researcher at the TalTech Environmental Technology Laboratory in Estonia and head of the study.
Currently, ozone is mainly used in wastewater treatment plants to disinfect water, but this is not enough to remove hazardous pharmaceutical residues. Only the use of ozone for oxidation will remove antibiotic residues from the water.