New method to dispose of toxic pharma waste: IIT Madras

The institute said they have already established 'co-composting' facilities in various villages across India

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Medicine
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CHENNAI: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) and researchers from Germany have developed a new method that can be used to safely dispose of toxic pharmaceutical wastewater sludge.

In a statement on Monday, the institute said they have already established ‘co-composting’ facilities in various villages across India and added that the research team is also in discussion with the Centre for setting up more such facilities. Co-composting is the controlled aerobic degradation of organics, using more than one feedstock like faecal sludge and organic solid waste.

The research team was led by Prof. Ligy Philip, Department of Civil Engineering, and included Anu Rachel Thomas from IIT-M and Prof. Martin Kranert from Stuttgart University. The results of this study have been published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Waste Management.

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Philip said, “Even though pharmaceuticals and personal care products are less susceptible to biodegradation, the addition of mixed organic waste and coir pith during septage composting provided an appropriate conducive environment for significant carbamazepine removal. Therefore, in-vessel ‘co-composting’ of septage can be considered as a resource recovery option for septage treatment.”

The pharmaceuticals, particularly antibiotics, are a major issue as their presence in water bodies can give rise to the bigger health issue of antibiotic resistance. There is a growing need to degrade pharmaceutical waste before they are released into the environment.

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