Model Areas for Removal of Pharmaceutical Substances in the South Baltic

MORPHEUS will integrate information on pharmaceutical consumption, existing technologies, release rates from wastewater treatment plants and environmental occurrence of pharmaceutical substances in the coastal regions Skåne (Sweden), Mecklenburg (Germany), Klaipeda (Lithuania) and Pomerania (Poland).

This information will aid wastewater treatment plants and authorities in a future implementation of the most suitable advanced treatment technology.

morpheus map baltic sea

© Kristianstad University

Regional Consumption Patterns of Pharmaceuticals (Work Package 3)

The main objective of Work Package 3 is to obtain an overview on spatial and temporal patterns of pharmaceutical substances in coastal waters of the model areas Skåne, Mecklenburg, Klaipeda and Pomerania. Human consumption as the main driver of emissions will be examined based on prescription data of pharmaceuticals and antibiotics. In combination with available information on human metabolism and balancing along flow paths, a quantification of loads at the influent of wastewater treatment plants is possible. This information will be valuable to assess the relevance of both, high-volume pharmaceuticals but also specific pharmaceuticals that may be of concern in terms of known negative impact on aquatic ecosystems. The information obtained will aid in identifying pollutants and support the development of future targeted monitoring strategies complementary to the EU watchlist (Work Package 4). Most importantly, the results will be of high relevance for the implementation of appropriate advanced treatment technologies (Work Package 5).

Regional Pharmaceutical Burden in Selected Wastewater Treatment Plants and Water Bodies (Work Package 4)

The main objective of Work Package 4 is to assess the pharmaceutical burden in the four coastal regions. While Work Package 3 is balancing emissions in a top-down approach based on consumption patterns, Work Package 4 is assessing the actual end-of-the-pipe emissions and the related chemical burden in ambient water systems. This is based on an appropriate sampling design and a systematic evaluation of already existing monitoring in the regions. Besides linking consumption with the environmental impact, WP4 also provides basic training in chemical analysis for partners and associated organizations. In cooperation with WP3 the outcome is highly relevant for WP5 to prioritize the most relevant wastewater treatment plants to take action and build Roadmaps for advanced wastewater treatment at selected wastewater treatment plants as model-sites for suitable uptake of green technologies together with the Associated Partners. This Work Package is also essential for WP6 to provide guidance on a systematic procedure to design a cost-efficient mitigation strategy.

Possibilites of Implementation of Advanced Wastewater Treatment Technologies (Work Package 5)

Based on the information made available in Work Packages 3, 4 and 5 a basic understanding of the need of treatment of pharmaceuticals at certain selected sites in the regions will be outlined. The main objective of Work Package 5  is to establish Road maps for uptake of advanced wastewater treatment technologies at four selected sites in the regions. These Road maps will give directions on the most suitable way of upgrading existing technologies (if needed) so that advanced treatment can be added immediately or at a later stage. In any case the Road maps should support that investments will have the greatest impact possible on improving wastewater quality over the coming decades, to the benefit of improved water in the South Baltic Sea.

Training and Education (Work Package 6)

In many South Baltic areas neither water companies who are responsible for massive supply of drinking water nor wastewater treatment plants responsible for sewage treatment are aware of how significant the concentration of pharmaceuticals is in drinking water as well as in sewage after treatment, which is discharge to surface waters. Moreover, operators are not very familiar with advanced technologies that
could allow them to reduce such contaminants in the treatment process. Controlling bodies responsible for quality of environment and public health are not trained in how chemical analyses to determinate the concentration of micropollutants are performed. This situation has to be changed – it requires first of all basic training courses for all who are involved in wastewater treatment plant operation and in monitoring of environmental contaminations. Evidently, elements of this knowledge can also be used in awareness-raising campaigns directed at consumers.

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