Recycling of hospital waste-water for pollution free environment and sustainable development


By Dr N Irabanta Singh & Yashwant Kumar Pandey
Introduction: As the pollution of the world has increased day by day, sources of clean Water resources have also decreased rapidly. As such we need to maintain our limited water resources by recycling available waste water in all possible way even from the hospitals. The disposal of hospital waste water without treatment is no longer an option, Waste-water from hospitals can contain traces of anything from viruses and multi-resistant bacteria to medical contrast agents and chemicals from various treatments. Small amounts of hormone-disrupting substances and other medicine residues are also part of the mix that passes from patients through hospital toilets and into public sewer systems. Hospitals discharge considerable amounts of chemicals and microbial agents in their Waste-Waters. Problematic chemicals present in hospital Waste-Water belong to different groups, such as antibiotics, X-ray contrast agents, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals. Many of these chemical compounds resist normal Waste-Water treatment. They end up in surface and ground 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 the article, we propose how hospital Waste-Water can be recycled for pollution free environment and possible sustainable development.
Environment pollution causing agent: Rapid growth of Industries & population has not only enhanced the productivity but also in the production & release of toxic substances in the Environment. We Human beings are over exploiting natural resources and releasing harmful substances to our environment which create health hazard affecting natural resources such as water, soil and air. Focus of this article is about waste Water release from Hospitals, Hotels, housing colonies, commercial complex building etc. with special focus on Hospital Waste Water treatment. The Waste Water which are generated from Hospitals contains various toxic/Harmful substances which are hazardous in nature and causes great damage to the ecosystem around the hospital and environment in general. Hospital Sewage Effluent Water is similar to integrated wastewater which contain much more complex chemical & if partially treated or untreated (Without technological treatment) wastewater discharge, it causes serious Pollution for natural resources & Living beings.
Need for treatment of hospital waste water: There are two main reason for treatment of Hospital Waste-Water Viz. i) Prevention of pollution in the form of biological, chemical and Pharmaceutical waste pollution to the ecosystem surrounding the Hospitals ii) protecting the public health by safeguarding ground and Surface water supplies and preventing the spread of waterborne diseases from biological and Chemical waste.
Technological solutions for hospital waste-water treatment and disposal: Various technological options are now available for treatment and safe disposal of Hospital Waste-Water management. Some of the Technologies like FAB/MBBR, MBR, SBR, UV Radiation, electric Coagulation etc. Older technology Waste-water treatment plants were built on a large-scale requiring huge processing areas and high upfront capital investment costs which may require government intervention to setup such plants. Since, environmental protection cannot wait government initiative and strict regulations have already been passed by Central Pollution Control board (CPCB) a more compact, low costs Water Treatment Plant installation in every Hospitals is becoming mandatory requirement. Fluidized aerobic bioreactor (FAB)/ Moving Bed Bio Reactor (MBBR) is one of the low costs and space saving technologies for Hospital Waste-Water treatment, while other Technologies requires huge upfront investment, FAB/MBBR can be installed and operated at minimal space by individual hospitals at minimal costs and still meet the latest Pollution Control board norms. One of the great advantage of FAB/MBBR technology is that it can be operated without sludge recirculation and media back washing and can be built as a mobile unit which can be even transported or built on rooftops.
Hospital waste water treatment by employing FAB/MBBR technology: FAB/ MBBR technology is a unique water treatment technology along with suspended particles and attached growth process promotes highly specialized biomass with the help of floating plastic cylindrical carrier which are kept in moving bed bio-reactor (MBBR) tank to provide a place for bacterial growth. The Term MBBR was coined from the presence of moving plastic media and it acts as a bed /home for bacteria based on low capital costs, space saving, easy operations, high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and BOD (Biological oxygen Demand) removal efficiency, less amount of sludge generation, self-regulation of biomass, single pass treatment, extremely compact design than others. This technology has taken hand to hand all over India and across the world. Hence, it has become the most preferred biological Waste-Water treatment technology.
Role of regulatory bodies for pollution control: In India, the ministry of environment and Forest (MOEF), central pollution control board (CPCB), the national Green Tribunal (NGT) and State pollution control board (SPCB) are the premier government agencies for providing technical services / support to improve the environment and control the environmental degradation. These are various environment Acts lie water pollution and preventive control Act 1974 and amendment; Air pollution Act, 1983; Environment Protection Act, 1986; Bio-Medical Waste Management Act 1998 Ext. 2016 under these acts all Environmental pollutants can be regulated.
Discussion: Waste water treatment is the treatment of polluted water into useful form. Because the polluted water from the Hospital due to various activities such as operation, wound cleaning, child-birth, floor washing, hospital laundry waste, flushing of human waste from sick patients etc. which are treated by MBBR / FAB technology can be used for irrigation, horticulture and floriculture, gardening, floor washing purposes. These Treated waters contains high quantity of nutrients which are useful for plant growth. By this way, we can recycle water and save raw water resources for future use.
Conclusion and recommendation: Hospital waste water after treatment can serve as a precious water resources for horticulture and floriculture gardening.
The following points are recommended for public and private awareness:
1) To enhance Awareness about safe reuse of hospital Waste-Water for healthy environment and sustainable development.
2) To encourage hospital authority (Government and private) for Installation of Waste Water Treatment Plants as a mandatory exercise.
3) To draw attention of the state pollution control board for strict installation of waste water treatment plant in all hospital for saving environment from pollution and water resource economy.
The first writer is former professor (Higher Academic Grade)/ life Sciences, Manipur University and former Dean, School of life Sciences, Manipur University and he can be reached at irabanta(dot)singh(at)gmail(dot)com while the second writer is an MPhil in Energy and Environment. He is currently an Environmental consultant and Waste-Water treatment expert

The article was originally published in The Sangai Express


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