Towards a water-wise world Annual report 2014


Demonstrating the presence of pharmaceuticals in wastewater

24 August 2014Research

Several years ago, KWR established a separate branch for wastewater and industrial water. With a background in drinking water, the institute thus signalled its readiness to work on the water issues faced by industry. KWR is conducting analyses for ARCADIS to demonstrate and quantify the presence of pharmaceuticals in wastewater.

“On the basis of the results we can determine whether a pharmaceutical company needs a treatment facility”

“We’ve been doing work for ARCADIS in the area of water quality and water treatment for quite some time,” says KWR’s Piet Speksnijder. “Since we’ve become increasingly active over the last few years in the entire water cycle, ARCADIS has approached us to demonstrate the presence of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals in wastewater. The assignment allows us to show that we can not only conduct measurements in clean drinking water and surface water, but also in a more complex environment such as that of wastewater. Helping industry with research into wastewater treatment is an intrinsic part of our institute’s mission. The worldwide shortage of drinking water and environmental concerns make this a necessity.”

Dozens of new analysis methods

To demonstrate the presence of substances for which KWR doesn’t yet have suitable analysis methods, our laboratory adapts or extends the existing methods. Besides its expertise, KWR also disposes of a modern laboratory with the advanced equipment needed to tackle new challenges. For Petra Ross, drinking water, industry water and wastewater advisor at ARCADIS, “KWR has succeeded, against the background of a complex wastewater matrix, in precisely measuring specific substances. This involves micrograms and sometimes even nanograms per litre. We use the results to help our pharmaceutical client decide whether it needs to build treatment facilities at its sites to meet environmental requirements.” When it comes to the collaboration with the KWR analysts, Ross is brief but to-the-point: “They are fast, precise and service-oriented.” The analyses for ARCADIS will be continued in 2015.

Deep-freeze storage of wastewater samples for later study of pharmaceuticals and substances listed in the Opium Act.

Deep-freeze storage of wastewater samples for later study of pharmaceuticals and substances listed in the Opium Act.


© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

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