A team at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology has developed a wastewater treatment method designed to filter out human drug residues that enter waterways and affect fish and plant life. The method, called membrane distillation, involves water vapor passing through a thin layer of hydrophobic material and eventually condensing onto a cold surface, leaving the residues behind. In initial tests, the method was able to eliminate residues from a variety of 20th-century drugs. Team member Andrew Martin says the only one they couldn’t remove completely was sertraline, an antidepressant commonly marketed under the trade name Zoloft.
What’s the Big Idea?
A study done on fish and plant life in Sweden’s Fyris River showed that even low-level concentrations of oxazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, affected perch behavior, and that they may have contributed to algae population changes. Martin says no other technology currently existing can remove residues on as large of a scale as the membrane distillation technique. Furthermore, he says, “[t]he water temperature does no need to be very high” for the wastewater treatment to work. Next for the team: Tests on water with even higher concentrations of drug residues.
Combining years of neurological research and mindfulness techniques, Dr. Heather Berlin helps us better understand how the body’s most complex organ can easily be misled into negative thinking - and how we can stop that from happening.