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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Research Identifies Way to Safely Remove Pharmaceuticals in Urine During Water Decontamination

An award-winning Texas A&M School of Public Health environmental chemist conducted research that found a way to safely remove pharmaceuticals in urine during the water decontamination process. The results of Dr. Virender K. Sharma’s research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), were recently published in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey in 2014, billions of pharmaceuticals are ingested daily by people around the world. Combined with human waste, these pharmaceuticals eventually end up in wastewater treatment plants, making it difficult to extract from human waste. Dr. Sharma conducted research that evaluated the application of ferrate, or supercharged iron, to urine that contained pharmaceuticals.

“While other oxidation processes are usually influenced by minerals, in this case, ferrate not only influenced bicarbonate, but also further promoted the removal of pharmaceuticals in urine, which is something we have never seen before. This is why our research project and our findings are so important,” Dr. Sharma said.

Although more research may be needed to fully analyze the effectiveness of ferrate on urine, this project has the potential to provide water treatment facilities with another alternative to safely clean water.

“Water pollution continues to be a growing problem throughout the world today, so I am excited to continue to be involved in projects that bring more efficient ways to tackle this issue,” Dr. Sharma said.

Dr. Sharma was recently named by Texas A&M’s research honor society Sigma Xi as the 2019 Outstanding Distinguished Scientist in recognition of his cutting-edge research.