Carleton researchers developing novel process to produce safer water

OTTAWA, ON, Canada, Jan. 12, 2010 -- The Canadian Water Network (CWN) is funding two Carleton professors to continue their innovative research to find better ways to produce safer drinking water and wastewater...

Jan 12th, 2010

OTTAWA, ON, Canada, Jan. 12, 2010 -- The Canadian Water Network (CWN) is funding two Carleton professors to continue their innovative research to find better ways to produce safer drinking water and wastewater.

Professors Banu Ormeci and Edward Lai will receive $159,000 over two years to find ways to cleanse water of drugs, personal care products and endocrine-disrupting compounds that are found in products such as birth control pills, over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics and fragrances.

"It's urgent that we find new, effective and affordable technologies to remove these substances as traditional treatment processes used at treatment plants are neither successful nor designed to remove these compounds," says Dr. Ormeci, Canada Research Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Extremely low concentrations of endocrine-disrupting compounds can affect the human endocrine system and pose a threat to fetal development and young children. Their adverse affects on aquatic organisms have been well documented and the feminization of male fish has been linked to their presence in surface waters. There is also evidence that pharmaceuticals and personal care products can adversely affect humans and aquatic organisms.

Adds Dr. Lai, a professor in the Department of Chemistry: "The new technologies we are developing that incorporate both sound engineering practices and analytical chemistry are a promising solution to the pressing problem associated with the long-term effects of emerging compounds on humans, and aquatic and terrestrial organisms."

Drs. Ormeci and Lai are using polymeric particles with nanostructures that can be engineered either to selectively remove the targeted harmful compounds or remove several of these compounds simultaneously as a cleanup step after water treatment. The technology is low-cost and does not require major changes to the existing treatment plant infrastructure.

"Over the next few years, we not only want to expand our research to incorporate a wide range of compounds but plan on adding magnetic properties to enhance the process," says Dr. Ormeci.

The Canadian Water Network catalyzes strong partnerships and fosters leadership in research that results in integration of knowledge across disciplines and sectors, empowering decision-makers and companies to apply effective knowledge-based solutions to water management.

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