Water scarcity is faced by many countries including Egypt due to the high rates of population growth, shortage of fresh water resources and industrialization. The treatment of industrial wastewater and reuse of the treated effluents plays a momentous role in water sustainability1.
Pharmaceutical industries consume a huge amount of water during the manufacturing process. These industries have a diversity of products, processes, plant sizes, as well as wastewater quantity and quality which depend on the market needs. They are considered as one of the emerging containments which may be found in traces and can pose a significant risk on the ecosystem and human health. The wastewater produced mainly goes to the wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) without any proper treatment2.
Biological treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater is one of the most common and long-term cost effective treatment methods still applied. In a previous study it was stated that aerobic treatment has faster degradation kinetics for the majority of PCPs and some pharmaceuticals, as compared to anaerobic ones3.
The main removal mechanisms involved in the aerobic treatment such as conventional activated sludge process are biodegradation and sorption (adsorption and absorption). Activated sludge process can break down certain pharmaceutical compounds to less hazard degree and produce a good quality of effluents.
So the researchers conducted a new study for treatment of hazardous pharmaceutical wastewater containing low phenol content using activated sludge process (ASP) in combination with UV-free surface reactor process (UV-FSR) as a post treatment for disinfection4.
UV Free Surface Reactor is a new reactor for the photochemical treatment of industrial wastewater. It was used due to various benefits such as; wastewater is directly irradiated, it is highly powerful, low cost reactor design, a highly polished aluminum reflector allows the reflection of the backwards-directed radiations and there are no laminar boundary problems5.
For study purpose, environmental screening for the raw materials used in the manufacturing process at the pharmaceutical industry was investigated. Also, extensive physcio-chemical characterization for real pharmaceutical wastewater was carried out before and after each treatment step. Determination of the optimum operating conditions for the ASP and UV-FSR were achieved4.
The results showed that the pharmaceutical wastewater was fluctuated and can’t be easily characterized like other types of wastewater. This was due to the variety of the manufacturing processes which were mainly batch processes, diversity of products, size of production plant, chemicals and other active ingredients used for the production of different types of pharmaceuticals.
It was established at end of study that this treatment approach produces a good quality of treated effluent complying with the Egyptian code of practice for reuse in agricultural purposes.
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