Lab Canada

Safe drinking water target of joint Walkerton/UWindsor research

Windsor, ON – A University of Windsor researcher has received $75,000 in funding to research methods of reducing harmful chemicals in drinking and wastewater from an organization that was established following the Walkerton water crisis.

Faculty of Engineering Professor Dr Nihar Biswas received funding from the Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) and will be working with environmental engineering doctoral student Samar Mazlum on treatment solutions to reduce and remove chemicals which contaminate water largely through the disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Dr Biswas said many of the chemicals get into receiving waters and are excreted into the environment because they are not absorbed by water treatment systems. The presence of discarded antibiotics in the water system may enable some pathogens to become drug-resistant. Another set of chemicals, endocrine-disrupting substances, such as birth control pills, can disrupt the actions of natural hormones and affect the reproductive systems of aquatic life and other animals.

“Existing wastewater treatment technologies are well-designed and efficient in removing many conventional contaminants, but the engineers did not take into consideration this group of chemicals,” said Dr Biswas.

A state-of-the-art pilot plant to study the issue was constructed at WCWC to evaluate how advanced oxidation processes using combinations of ozone, ultra-violet light and hydrogen peroxide may eliminate or reduce the toxicity of chemicals within the framework of existing water quality guidelines.