Prevention of Pharmaceutical Water Pollution by Urine Source Separation and Treatment

EPA Grant Number: SU835719
Title: Prevention of Pharmaceutical Water Pollution by Urine Source Separation and Treatment
Investigators: Boyer, Treavor H. , Ishii, Stephanie , Landry, Kelly , Rivera, Nicole , Saetta, Daniella
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The goal of this P3 Project is evaluate the efficacy of using adsorption to remove pharmaceuticals from source-separated human urine. The rationale is that effective removal of pharmaceuticals from source-separated urine ultimately minimizes their potential for ecological harm in receiving waters, as well as their occurrence in drinking water sources. Additionally, separation of pharmaceuticals from nutrients in urine is essential for subsequent nutrient recovery and reuse. This P3 Project will be accomplished by completing three specific objectives: (1) Quantify the adsorption capacity and selectively of various low-cost materials for pharmaceutical removal from urine; (2) Conduct a preliminary life cycle assessment and cost analysis of urine source separation and pharmaceutical removal by adsorption; and (3) Generate excitement and improve understanding of sustainable wastewater management through the use of high impact social media.


This P3 Project will be accomplished through laboratory experiments (Objective 1), life cycle assessment (LCA) (Objective 2), and education and outreach (Objective 3). The laboratory experiments will be conducted using synthetic urine and various low-cost materials (e.g., biochar and natural zeolites). LCA will be conducted following the steps of inventory analysis, impact assessment, impact interpretation, and cost analysis. The University of Florida will serve as a representative community for this LCA, specifically focusing on the material flows and processes required for pharmaceutical removal from dormitory derived urine. Widely used and high impact social media including Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube will be used for education and outreach.

Expected Results:

Successful completion of this P3 Project will achieve the following expected outputs: (Obj. 1) Identification of low-cost materials that effectively remove pharmaceuticals from urine; (Obj. 2) Life cycle environmental impacts and costs of urine source separation and pharmaceutical removal by adsorption; and (Obj. 3) Over 100 micro-blogs on sustainable wastewater management including urine source separation and pharmaceutical removal. Together these outputs will achieve the outcome of this P3 Project, which is a sustainable approach to pharmaceutical removal from urine that decreases water pollution. The proposed P3 Project will have multiple benefits to people, prosperity, and the planet. For instance, this project will decrease the load of pharmaceuticals to water bodies, which will reduce the risks associated with pharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems.

Supplemental Keywords:

Life cycle analysis, Treatment technologies, Deign for the Environment, Environmental education, Sustainable water management, Urban water planning