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The Treatment Of Hospital Wastewater: An Appraisal

B. Pauwels, W. Verstraete

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Hospitals discharge considerable amounts of chemicals and microbial agents in their wastewaters. Problem chemicals present in hospital wastewater belong to different groups, such as antibiotics, X-ray contrast agents, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals. Many of these chemical compounds resist normal wastewater treatment. They end up in surface waters where they can influence the aquatic ecosystem and interfere with the food chain. Humans are particularly exposed by the drinking water, produced from surface water. Microbial agents of special concern are multiresistant microbial strains. The latter are suspected to contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance. In this paper, we will discuss the different approaches towards hospital wastewater treatment. The principle of uncoupling hospitals from public sewers warrants in-depth evaluation by technologists and ecotoxicologists as well as public health specialists.