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UA to examine emerging pollutant removal in wastewater treatment plants as they pose hazards to both human health and the environment

Within the context of a European project, the University Institute for Water and Environmental Sciences will develop an efficient and sustainable system in a pilot plant in Benidorm



Alicante. Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Since traces of pharmaceuticals were detected in the water environment, boosting technologies to remove these substances has been a challenge. In fact, the effects of these pollutants, so-called contaminants of emerging concerns(CECs) are potentially harmful to human health and the environment.

That is why, in order to provide an efficient and sustainable technology for the removal of CECs by 99%, the University of Alicante Institute for Water and Environmental Sciences (IUACA) participates - since September -  in the LIFE European project "Empore" along with entities and related companies in Valencia region and the UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education - Netherlands).

Sewage is the main focus of emerging pollutants, so developing a technology for wastewater treatment plants is a priority for the European Union. "We intend to achieve reductions lower to the quality objectives laid down in European directives for plasticisers, insecticides, herbicides and surfactants; and reductions of 99% of the initial concentration for unregulated compounds, mainly drugs widely used in society”, said IUACA researcher and project manager Daniel Prats.

In this regard, although there are compounds under environmental regulations, other substances such as antibiotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, hormones, antidepressants among others, should be addressed and regularised. "Other than studying the situation and effects of substances and emerging pollutants in Europe and analysing all regulations and scientific results, the project “Empore" will assess disposal systems for a number of selected pollutants in a pilot plant based in Benidorm," Prats explained.

As the most important and well-known tourist destination in Spain, the profile of the population residing in Benidorm throughout the year is mainly elder people that usually consume pharmaceuticals. "An ideal location to assess the socioeconomic and environmental impact of the pilot plant, transferable to other places in Europe with a similar situation regarding emerging contaminants," UA researcher argued.





The project has been coordinated by Laboratorios Tecnológicos de Levante and joined by the University of Alicante, the Instituto Tecnológico Metalmecánico (AIMME), CONSOMAR,  UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), and EPSAR, a public entity for wastewater sanitation in Valencia region. 

The Environment and Climate Action Programme LIFE, which this project belongs to, is the only financial instrument of the European Union dedicated exclusively to the environment. Its overall objective for the period 2004-2020 is to contribute to sustainable development and the achievement of objectives and goals of Strategy Europe 2020 and the relevant strategies and plans for the environment and climate.

Caption: Daniel Prats, project manager of the UA Institute for Water and Environmental Sciences.


Investigacion_contaminantes1 Investigacion_contaminantes2

First meeting of partners held at the Technology Park in Paterna, last September, to set the first year's activities.



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