BTO rapport - BTO 2012.025

Dealing with pharmaceuticals in drinking water production


Pharmaceuticals can enter the environment, and thus be found in drinking water sources. As a result
they potentially may end up in drinking water in low concentrations. Within the framework of BTO the
project ‘dealing with pharmaceuticals in drinking water production’ was formulated. In this project a
risk assessment was carried out and risk management options for pharmaceuticals and their metabolites
in drinking water production were investigated. This project covered two research topics, assigned to the
KWR research groups ‘Water Treatment’ (WT) and ‘Chemical Water Quality’ (CW). The objective of the
research theme assigned to CW was to relate the environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals to
their consumption, and to screen Dutch surface waters and drinking water for the presence of
pharmaceuticals and their transformation products. The study included a first inventory of veterinary
pharmaceuticals. A human health risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites was carried
out. Two selections of pharmaceuticals were made, one for screening of human health risks, and one for
research with three different drinking water treatment techniques. The objective for WT was to study
these treatment techniques, in order to determine the most efficient and sustainable approach to deal
with pharmaceuticals in drinking water production. Various existing drinking water treatment
methodologies (active carbon filtration, UV/hydrogen peroxide oxidation with Low pressure UV lamps,
and membrane filtration) are assessed in terms of removal efficiency for pharmaceuticals and their

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