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New Water Treatment Process Could Help Bring Dead Zones Back to Life

October 09, 2012
“There is mounting concern across the U.S. about the impact of trace organics, such as hormones and pharmaceuticals, in our water systems and the potential threats they pose on human health, wildlife and the environment. This research showed that when Actiflo® Carb is added to a wastewater treatment process, it removes a significant portion of the pharmaceuticals tested.
- Dr. Rebecca Klaper, the lead scientist from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Employing a new tertiary wastewater treatment process reduced levels of phosphorous and trace pollutants in urban wastewater effluent below EPA safe levels, researchers from Veolia Water, Kruger and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found.

The number and extent of so-called marine “dead zones”–areas of coastal ocean waters where nearly all forms of marine life have been snuffed out due to lack of oxygen—has been on the rise for decades now, posing increasing threats to commercial and subsistence fisheries, recreational fishing and human health. Terrestrial runoff containing relatively high levels of phosphorous, primarily from agricultural fertilizers, has been identified as one of the main culprits.

Wastewater discharge from cities and urban centers is also to blame. In addition to phosphorous, there are growing concerns about a wide range of chemicals and substances being poured into coastal waters from urban sources—trace organics and hormones in pharmaceuticals and in personal care products (PPCPs) prominent among them.

Conducting an eight-week study as part of a multi-year partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Veolia Water North America found that adding its Actiflo Carb technology to the traditional wastewater treatment process removed 75 percent of selected PPCPs and reduced phosphorous concentration to 0.05 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or less, a level well below the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) 1.0 mg/L threshold, according to a company press release.

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