“Expecting a Water Filter to Remove All ‘Pharmaceuticals’ Is Like Expecting a Pill to Contain All Nutrients”
by Gene Franks
One of the most perplexing questions that water treatment dealers get is, “Do you have a product that will take the pharmaceuticals out of water?” Clearly, there is no simple answer to the question because “pharmaceuticals” includes literally thousands of drugs that can be combined in thousands of ways. To expect a single product to deal with all drugs is clearly unrealistic–like expecting a pill to contain all nutrients or a flower to put out all fragrances.
Here’s a listing of treatment strategies from a Water Technology article that will indicate the complexity of the issue. You need to know that PPCPs is water treatment language for “pharmaceuticals and other personal care products.”
Treatment methods for PPCPs in drinking water
Most conventional water treatment systems are not specifically engineered or equipped to remove PPCPs from drinking water. However, depending on the specific chemical class of the contaminant, there is a range of treatment methodologies that have proven effective for removing PPCPs or reducing their concentration. Such methodologies include:
- Activated carbon
- Biologically activated carbon
- Ozone/advanced oxidation processes
- Ultraviolet (UV) treatments
- Reverse osmosis.
According to some researchers, a number of individual water treatment methods have demonstrated high levels of success in removing PPCPs in several classifications, as follows:
- Over 90 percent of steroids can be removed from drinking water using activated sludge, activated carbon, biologically activated carbon, ozone/advanced oxidation processes, UV treatments and reverse osmosis.
- Over 90 percent of antibiotics, antidepressants and antimicrobials can be removed using activated carbon, biologically activated carbon, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis.
- Over 90 percent of anti-inflammatories can be removed using activated carbon, biologically activated carbon, ozone/ advanced oxidation processes, UV treatments, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis.
- Over 90 percent of lipid regulators can be removed using activated carbon, biologically activated carbon, ozone/advanced oxidation processes, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis.
- Under 40 percent of listed PPCPs can be removed through the use of coagulation/flocculation and softening/metal oxides.
A residential water user looking for a single treatment for “pharmaceuticals” should note that of the strategies that are available for residential use reverse osmosis and activated carbon are consistently effective. An undersink reverse osmosis unit that contains at least two high quality activated carbon filters is your best shot at single treatment protection from PPCPs.