Synthetical chemicals are ever-present in modern life — in our medications, cosmetics and clothing — but what happens to them when they enter our municipal water supplies? Because these chemicals are out-of-sight, out-of-mind, we assume they cannot harm us after we flush them down the sink.
However, most water treatment infrastructures were not designed to remove synthetic organic chemicals like those found in opioids, personal care products and pharmaceuticals. Consequently, trace concentrations of those chemicals are present in effluent: the water discharged from treatment plants into lakes, rivers and streams.
Although found in extremely small concentrations, just nanograms or micrograms, the toxicity is not well understood in human bodies and ecosystems. Worse, we know even less about the effects on human and ecosystem health of byproducts created during advanced oxidation water treatment processes; thousands of chemical byproducts can be created in just minutes.
Therefore, it’s crucial that scientists and treatment plant managers understand the mechanisms by which chemical byproducts are created during the treatment process. Daisuke Minakata, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University, with […]