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Advanced treatment of wastewater

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management is funding several projects which aim to identify options to reduce the release of pharmaceutical residues to aquatic environment.

Pharmaceuticals and other hazardous substances are released to our waters through municipal wastewater treatment plants (MWWP). The effects of pharmaceutical substances depend on the sensitivity of the receiving waters. The effects that pharmaceuticals have in the water environment is largely unknown, but hormones such as ethinylestradiol have s been linked to the feminization of male fish and psychotherapeutic drugs have also been reported to alter fish behaviour. Active substances of certain pharmaceuticals have been found way out in the Baltic Sea.

Several strategies are necessary to reduce the release of pharmaceuticals to the environment, ranging from development of new pharmaceuticals, to changes relating to their production, use, waste disposal and wastewater treatment.

MWWPs are not designed to reduce micro pollutants and pharmaceuticals and need to implement new options. Eight projects have received funding. The projects include small, as well as large treatment plants, and different treatment technology such as activated carbon and ozone treatment. The projects received in total 32 million SEK.

An international conference, “Water and Pharmaceuticals - insights and perspectives for health and environment”, was held 12-13 April 2016.

The projects will contribute to the knowledge how advanced treatment can be implemented in Sweden. Conclusions will be reported in the beginning of 2018. More information about the specific projects can be found in the publications or at the different organisations websites.


Organisation/ Project leader


Project time


Pharmaceuticals in blackwater and faecal sludge – treatments and risks


Tekniska verken i Linköping AB

Ozone and MBBR – from pilot to full scale


Högskolan Kristianstad HKR

Full scale treatment of micropollutants


IVL Svenska miljöinstitutet

Systems for the purification of pharmaceutical residues and other emerging substances


Sweden Water Research, SWR

Treatment of persistent substances in wastewater


Umeå universitet

Evaluation of advanced wastewater treatment in full scale


Lunds universitet

Treatment of pharmaceutical residues and other micro pollutants – a literature survey


Högskolan Kristianstad HKR

Comparative testing of pharmaceutical analysis


More information about pharmaceuticals and the environment

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Published: 2017-08-10

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