Estimation of Pharmaceutical Concentrations in Wastewater Using the Data Visualisation Tool: Factors affecting measured and predicted influent pharmaceutical wastewater concentrations – Report

Researchers at Robert Gordon University have recently conducted a study to explore the potential of using the Data Visualisation Tool for predicting pharmaceutical concentrations in influent wastewater and their subsequent impact on the environment. The tool, developed by the One Health Breakthrough Partnership, serves as a valuable resource for researchers, policymakers, and environmental professionals. This report investigates the feasibility of utilising prescription data within the Data Visualisation Tool to predict pharmaceutical concentrations, addressing data gaps, and aiding in the prioritisation of monitoring and intervention efforts in Scotland.

This report, commissioned by OHBP steering group member Scottish Water, presents a comprehensive study on the potential use of the Data Visualisation Tool for predicting pharmaceutical concentrations in influent wastewater using prescription data. The study explores the feasibility of utilising the Data Visualisation Tool, in conjunction with the Chemical Investigation Programme (CIP), to enhance prediction accuracy and support environmental management efforts in Scotland.

The study involved an extensive review of the literature to identify strategies for improving the accuracy of predicted pharmaceutical concentrations. Additionally, an analysis of the CIP monitoring approaches and relevant literature was conducted to establish effective methods for validating the predicted concentrations.

The findings demonstrate the potential of the Data Visualisation Tool and its integration with the CIP to enhance the accuracy of predicted pharmaceutical concentrations. Recommendations for improving prediction accuracy include:

  1. Incorporating total human excretion % (urinary and faecal) of pharmaceuticals and their major metabolites: Including comprehensive data on excretion percentages will improve the accuracy of predictions.
  2. Considering degradation rates of pharmaceuticals and metabolites during sewer transport: Understanding degradation rates in sewer systems will enhance prediction accuracy.
  3. Incorporating average sewer residence time for Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs): Including data on the average sewer residence time will contribute to more precise predictions.
  4. Including data on average daily flows of wastewater: Information on average daily flows will enable better estimation of pharmaceutical concentrations in influent wastewater.
  5. Utilising theoretical population figures for WWTPs (household only): Incorporating theoretical population figures, specifically household data, will further refine prediction accuracy.
  6. Gathering data on ammonium concentrations determined in 24-hour influent composite samples: Collecting data on ammonium concentrations will provide valuable insights into the prediction process.

By implementing these recommendations, the Data Visualisation Tool can serve as a powerful tool for predicting pharmaceutical concentrations in influent wastewater. This enhanced capability will support decision-making processes, targeted monitoring efforts, and effective interventions to mitigate the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals in wastewater.