Wastewater researchers have an unusual new tool at their disposal: bathtubs pumped full of speed.
Scientists are pouring amphetamines into fiberglass bathtubs — albeit, shallow, narrow tubs meant to serve as artificial streams — to recreate the effect of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) on the environment, a crucial issue for the wastewater industry.
Researchers, policy officials, and environmentalists say drugs are escaping wastewater treatment processes and contaminating rivers and streams. “Most treatment plants lack the often-expensive technologies necessary to filter out amphetamines and other potentially dangerous ‘chemicals of emerging concern,’” Ars Technica explained in a recent close-up on PPCP research. The practice of dumping untreated sewage also presents an opportunity for PPCPs to enter the environment.
Researchers at the Cary Institute, an environmental research group, are using tubs to examine this problem in the lab.
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