The discovery of a variety of pharmaceuticals in surface, ground, and drinking waters around the country is raising concerns about the potentially adverse environmental consequences of these contaminants. Today most waste water treatment plants are not dimensioned to remove pharmaceutical residue. Estimates show that about 10% is eliminated at the treatment plants while 20% ends up in the sludge and as much as 70% ends up in the aquatic environment. Minute concentrations of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, some of which are pharmaceuticals, have detrimental effects on aquatic species and possibly on human health and development.
The most representative pharmaceutical compounds detected in urban wastewaters are anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, antibiotics and lipid regulators. Pharmaceutical micro pollutants in the effluent have a high biological activity even in low concentrations causing negative impact on the environment.
Biological treatment has been employed as the principal unit process in most of the pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. However, some pharmaceutical formulation activities produce a complex and difficult to degrade effluents that cannot be effectively treated via conventional activated sludge treatment units as far as treatment performance and residual COD values are concerned. In suchcases, pretreatment prior to main biological oxidation is required.
In the manufacturing stage, raw water treatment plays a very important role in maintaining the quality standards. Apart from common contamination like coliforms, streptococcus species, it is the pseudomonas species that most of the pharmaceutical industries are concerned about. These chlorine-resistant bacteria have the potential to cause urinary tract infections, respiratory disorders etc to the patients consuming it through medicines.
Hence, ozone becomes a one stop solution to all. Be it raw water treatment or effluent treatment, ozone will have a keen edge over any other disinfectant. Ozone has also been successful in combating these pseudomonas species. Chemical oxidation using ozone has proved to be an effective treatment process for a wide spectrum of organic micro-pollutants. Due to its high oxidation potential, ozone treatment is widely used in drinking water treatment for disinfection, color removal, taste and odor control, decrease of disinfection by-products formation, biodegradability increase and also for the successful degradation of many organic contaminants. Ozone reacts with organic contaminants through both a direct reaction with molecular ozone or through indirect reactions with free radicals (including the hydroxyl radical OH) produced by the decomposition of ozone. UV-H2O2, Fenton’s Reagent have replicated the same results. Also, ozone can be used for other applications as well and not just effluent treatment. Since in pharmaceutical industries, sanitation is extremely important ozone can also be used in CIP (Clean In Place) system and air disinfection.