Removal of Pharmaceutical residues by ferrate(VI).PLoS One. 2013; 8(2):e55729.Plos
Pharmaceuticals and their metabolites are inevitably emitted into the waters. The adverse environmental and human health effects of pharmaceutical residues in water could take place under a very low concentration range; from several µg/L to ng/L. These are challenges to the global water industries as there is no unit process specifically designed to remove these pollutants. An efficient technology is thus sought to treat these pollutants in water and waste water.
A novel chemical, ferrate, was assessed using a standard jar test procedure for the removal of pharmaceuticals. The analytical protocols of pharmaceuticals were standard solid phase extraction together with various instrumentation methods including LC-MS, HPLC-UV and UV/Vis spectroscopy. Ferrate can remove more than 80% of ciprofloxacin (CIP) at ferrate dose of 1 mg Fe/L and 30% of ibuprofen (IBU) at ferrate dose of 2 mg Fe/L. Removal of pharmaceuticals by ferrate was pH dependant and this was in coordinate to the chemical/physical properties of pharmaceuticals. Ferrate has shown higher capability in the degradation of CIP than IBU; this is because CIP has electron-rich organic moieties (EOM) which can be readily degraded by ferrate oxidation and IBU has electron-withdrawing groups which has slow reaction rate with ferrate. Promising performance of ferrate in the treatment of real waste water effluent at both pH 6 and 8 and dose range of 1-5 mg Fe/L was observed. Removal efficiency of ciprofloxacin was the highest among the target compounds (63%), followed by naproxen (43%). On the other hand, n-acetyl sulphamethoxazole was the hardest to be removed by ferrate (8% only).
Ferrate is a promising chemical to be used to treat pharmaceuticals in waste water. Adjusting operating conditions in terms of the properties of target pharmaceuticals can maximise the pharmaceutical removal efficiency.