Ultrasound to help eliminate Ibuprofen from polluted water

February 23rd, 2009 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 23 (IANS) An international team of scientists has developed an ultrasound treatment to remove Ibuprofen from waters polluted with this drug.
The new method could be used in water purification plants, which would avoid the emission of pharmaceutical pollutants into rivers, lakes, seas and other surface waters.

The team at the laboratories of the Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Switzerland has developed a novel method for eliminating pharmaceutical products from water.

The substance chosen for the study was Ibuprofen, as it is one of the drugs that appears with the most frequency in the analyses of waste waters due to its high consumption as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

“Pharmaceutical compounds are pollutant substances from the moment in which they maintain their pharmacological activity outside the environment for which they were designed,” Fabiola Mendez-Arriaga said. She co-authored the study of the department of chemical engineering, University of Barcelona (UB).

During the application of ultrasonic waves to the polluted liquid, a physical and chemical reaction is generated known as “sonolysis”, in which water (H2O) is disassociated in highly oxidant radicals such as hydroxyl (-OH). This radical facilitates the oxidation and breaking down of Ibuprofen into other low-molecular mass compounds, said a Barcelona release.

“Ultrasonic waves are applied for half an hour and this enables up to 98 percent of Ibuprofen to be broken down and after two hours of irradiation the drug is eliminated completely and transformed into biodegradable substances which can be removed or eliminated in a conventional purification plant,” stated Mendez-Arriaga.

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