About this Journal Submit a Manuscript Table of Contents
BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 325806, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/325806
Research Article

Microbial Removal of the Pharmaceutical Compounds Ibuprofen and Diclofenac from Wastewater

1Department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 17, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands
2Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 10, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands
3RIKILT, Wageningen UR, Akkermaalsbos 2, 6708 WB Wageningen, The Netherlands

Received 13 December 2012; Revised 1 October 2013; Accepted 2 October 2013

Academic Editor: Denise Freire

Copyright © 2013 Alette Langenhoff et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Studies on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals show that the widely used pharmaceuticals ibuprofen and diclofenac are present in relevant concentrations in the environment. A pilot plant treating hospital wastewater with relevant concentrations of these pharmaceuticals was evaluated for its performance to reduce the concentration of the pharmaceuticals. Ibuprofen was completely removed, whereas diclofenac yielded a residual concentration, showing the necessity of posttreatment to remove diclofenac, for example, activated carbon. Successively, detailed laboratory experiments with activated sludge from the same wastewater treatment plant showed bioremediation potential in the treatment plant. The biological degradation pathway was studied and showed a mineralisation of ibuprofen and degradation of diclofenac. The present microbes were further studied in laboratory experiments, and DGGE analyses showed the enrichment and isolation of highly purified cultures that degraded either ibuprofen or diclofenac. This research illuminates the importance of the involved bacteria for the effectiveness of the removal of pharmaceuticals in a wastewater treatment plant. A complete removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewater will stimulate water reuse, addressing the worldwide increasing demand for clean and safe fresh water.