News Report  

Medical Waste in Municipal Water

March 2008

Recently there has been a barrage of inflammatory press coverage in the news media regarding the findings of medical waste in water supplies. The media has jumped all over this as if it is something we in water treatment have not known about for many years.

The fact of the matter is the desire to extend human life, cure disease, and make our lives more comfortable comes at a cost. Every time we solve a problem, another one seems to be created. Better life through chemistry can be both a blessing and a curse.

The question of medical waste in our water is similar to the concerns we have regarding industrial and household chemical waste in our water. There is always cause for concern, but there is no need to panic. There are literally thousands of different compounds in this world, and the truth of the matter is we don’t know what they are doing to this planet or its population. As you can create millions of phone numbers from ten digits, imagine how many chemical compounds can be derived from the more than 100 items listed on the table of elements. And remember that matter cannot be destroyed; only converted. Once a specific problem is discovered it takes decades to eventually arrive at the truth, and even longer if the political will, funding, or technology for a solution is missing.

If you are concerned regarding any of the above in your water supply, there are a number of technologies available to help protect you depending on the problem. The easiest and most affordable general solution to safeguard your drinking water against the widest array of undetermined threats is the SWT BioMaster™ System with integrated UV. This is a compact system that fits under the sink and employs the same filtration processes that the most reputable bottling plants use; sediment filtration, carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, and UV disinfection.

The reasons we are recommending the SWT BioMaster is that 1) RO membranes filter water down to a molecular level allowing only certain size molecules to pass through the membrane. Most highly compounded chemical and complex pharmaceutical strings are far too large to pass the membrane barrier, and are rejected. 2) Granular activated carbon is a commonly used and proven technology for pesticide and chemicals absorption, and 3) UV is acknowledged universally as a proper method for the sterilization of most bacteria.

Additionally, the SWT BioMaster provides a viable economical and ecological alternative to bottled water. If you are spending several hundred dollars a year on bottled water, the SWT BioMaster can eliminate those costs. With this filtration system you will have the means to create “bottled quality” water right from your own tap. Plus, you would decrease your own contribution to the world problem of disposing billions of plastic bottles in our planet’s landfills.

SWT would like to be sure we are not misunderstood in our stance. While we feel the SWT BioMaster is an excellent general solution to purify potable and non-potable water for drinking without the cost and waste of bottled water, if an actual known intrusion of a particularly harmful agent is discovered in your water supply, the situation must be specifically monitored to ensure long term protection against that substance.

— Safe Water Technologies, Inc.

The Water Quality Assocation has released the following statement regarding medical waste found in municipal drinking water:

Home filtering systems provide
best protection for drinking water

As news reports about pharmaceuticals in water circulate, here are several facts for consumers to consider:

Filtering systems in the home provide the highest technology available for treatment of drinking water. Less than two percent of all water consumed is ingested by humans, making these “point-of-use” systems the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

While utilities are required to meet safety standards set by the U.S. EPA, home filtering systems act as a final contaminant barrier and can further purify water for drinking.

While specific product performance standards have not yet been developed for pharmaceuticals, many point-of-use technologies have proven effective for some of these emerging contaminants. Nano-filtration and reverse osmosis systems removed drugs tested by the Colorado School of Mines at full-scale facilities in Arizona and California. Activated carbon, distillation, ozonation, and advanced oxidization have likewise shown promise in removing many of these contaminants. Individual manufacturers can also test products for specific pharmaceuticals if they choose.

According to Utah State University Extension, up to 90 percent of oral drugs can pass through humans unchanged. These often then move through wastewater into streams and groundwater. It is generally cost prohibitive for utilities to use systems such as nano-filtration, long contact activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. However, these top technologies have proven successful at removing many contaminants in home water treatment systems.

In addition to pharmaceuticals, water quality experts are examining other emerging contaminants, such as those found in personal care products and pesticides. These are often referred to as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Home filtering systems have also been proven to treat threats such as lead and mercury. WQA provides Gold Seal certification for products that remove a variety of contaminants. Consumers can learn about different treatment systems and find locally certified dealers by visiting the WQA website’s Gold Seal and Find A Professional features

“Home filtering systems provide best protection for drinking water.” WQA Fact Sheet: Pharmaceuticals in water. 11 March 2008. Water Quality Association.

Safe Water Technologies, Inc.
996 Bluff City Boulevard
Elgin, IL 60120 USA
Telephone: +1.847.888.6900
Facsimile: +1.847.888.6924

Last Updated: June 13, 2018