Primary Investigator: Guy Sander
Industry Partners: NA
Award Type: Seed Grant – Undergraduate Research Scholar
Problem: Even at low levels, pharmaceuticals that enter Minnesota waterways can harm the environment and wildlife. The pharmaceuticals enter the environment through wastewater treatment plant effluent that is discharged in local waters, or in the wastewater sludge that is applied in farm fields. Pharmaceuticals do not degrade easily in fields, demanding new strategies to remove the pollutants from wastewater.
Solution: The Sander Lab will investigate aerobic bioremediation as a more effective strategy for removing pharmaceutical micropollutants at wastewater treatment plants. Researchers will track the fate of pharmaceuticals through the facility and propose optimized solutions based on the biodegradation of the micropollutants and flow capacity of the plant.
Impact: Improving pharmaceutical removal at wastewater treatment sites will reduce the amount of micropollutants that enter the environment, thereby protecting Minnesota’s water resources. A solution at the wastewater site will also allow for the continued application of sludge in farm fields, which is agriculturally beneficial for its high nutrient content.