Hospital wastewater had been suspected of contributing significant loads of pharmaceutical residues to domestic wastewater. Detailed investigations at the Caboolture Hospital and the South Caboolture Wastewater Treatment Plant indicated that this assumption does not hold true. In hospital wastewater, the concentrations of 77 compounds (out of 123) are more than 100-fold below the calculated effect thresholds. Of these compounds only nine remained of concern at the influent to the sewage treatment plant studied. The findings were further validated by examining audit data for a broader range of substances at six major hospitals in SEQ and by sampling at the Ipswich Hospital and the Bundamba Wastewater Treatment Plant - in a catchment of an Advanced Water Treatment Plant producing purified recycled water for potential indirect potable reuse.
Antibiotics are heavily used in hospitals and often blamed for the transfer of resistant bacteria. The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant and multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria is of great concern to health professionals. The contribution of hospitals to antibiotic resistant bacteria to the influent of wastewater treatment plants was investigated.
This project addressed a large number of chemicals of concern. It aimed at evaluating audit data and recommending appropriate sampling techniques in order to inform policy and regulations in the trace waste sector, and provide a solid basis to study economic source control options. It focused on the following questions:
- Does audit data reveal any particular hospital to be a major point source?
- How relevant are substances from out-patients administered in hospitals?
- Can audit data be experimentally verified at a suitable hospital?
- Are analytical methods available to quantify the compounds and bacteria of interest?
- Are there other categories of compounds (eg, disinfectants) deserving attention?
- Do hospitals contribute more antibiotically-resistant bacteria than domestic wastewater?
- Impacts if different prioritisation schemes were applied.
- How would the evaluation of hospitals be influenced if prioritisation schemes were based on other schemes such as potency or toxicity rather than mass?
Key Publications and Outputs
- Technical Report 76
- Conference papers listed on the Alliance website
- Proceedings of the Alliance Science Forums
Le Corre K.S., Ort, C., Kateley, D., Allen B, Escher B.I. and Keller, J. (2012) Consumption-based approach for assessing the contribution of hospitals towards the load of pharmaceutical residues in municipal wastewater. Environment International, 45 (1) 99-111.
Le Corre, K.S., Ort, C. and Keller, J. (2012) Pharmaceutical residues in municipal wastewater: are hospitals a major point source? Water, the Australian Journal of the Water Association, 39 (4), 84-88.
Ort, C., Lawrence, M.G., Rieckermann, J. and Joss, A. (in press). Sampling for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) and Illicit Drugs in Wastewater Systems: Are Your Conclusions Valid? A Critical Review. Environmental Science and Technology, 44, (16), 6024-6035.
Ort, C., Lawrence, M. G., Reungoat, J., Eaglesham, G.; Carter, S. and Keller, J. (2010). Determining the fraction of pharmaceutical residues in wastewater originating from a hospital. Water Research, 44, (2), 605-615.
Ort, C., Lawrence, M.G., Reungoat, J. and Mueller, J.F. (2010). Sampling for PPCPs in Wastewater Systems: Comparison of Different Sampling Modes and Optimization Strategies. Environmental Science and Technology, 44, (16), 6289-6296.
This research is of high relevance to the management of wastewater quality and hospital specific wastewater contaminants.
Dr Kristell Le Corre, The University of Queensland
Ph: +61 7 3346 3229