Increase in organics in wastewater

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From Water Technology Online:

Households are flushing more organic material — including medicines and cleaning and personal care products — down the drain compared with historic data, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center (WRC), a June 3 university press release states.

The yearlong pilot study, completed by the university’s Water Resources Center Onsite Sewage Treatment Program team and the Colorado School of Mines, sampled the wastewater of 16 households in three states — Minnesota, Florida and Colorado — beginning in fall 2006. By adding mechanical diverters to the homes’ sewers, researchers were able to sample water seasonally and around the clock during a seven-day period for each home.

In addition to an increase in medicines and organic chemicals in the wastewater, researchers found caffeine in all samples that were tested; salicylic acid (the active compound in aspirin) was in about three-quarters of samples; ibuprofen in half; and detergent additives and plasticizers in more than three quarters. Researchers also found that water use did not vary from season to season, but was affected by the household’s age, with younger households using nearly twice the amount of water per person than households with occupants 55 and older.

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