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.
"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," said Dr. Rebecca Klaper, the lead scientist from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who worked on the study."This research showed that when Actiflo® Carb is added to a wastewater treatment process, it removes a significant portion of the pharmaceuticals tested.
Applying Actflo Carb to wastewater streams is more effective than conventional processes when it comes to removing phosphorous, pharmaceuticals and other trace organics, which are being found in ever-larger quantities in the U.S. water supply, Veolia Water North America chief technical officer Jim Hurst continued.
"We believe it will give wastewater facilities a way to stretch their treatment dollars while dramatically reducing pollution levels and achieving better water quality. The Clean Water Act initiated efforts to reduce water pollution in the U.S., and now this technology can take those efforts even further by addressing one of today's emerging water pollution issues."
*Photo credit: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District
An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.