Date palm leaves can help remove chemicals like pharmaceuticals and dyes from hospital waste water before it is discharged into the municipal sewers, says a scientist from a university in Oman.
Al Said Al Shafey, principal investigator of a project at the chemistry department of Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, has started a research with an objective to establish a physico-chemical unit for the treatment of hospital waste water, the Gulf News daily reported.
Al Shafey said they could extract dehydrated and activated carbons from date palm leaves, which is a cheap and sustainable resource in Oman.
According to estimates, around 180,000 tonnes of date palm leaves are produced annually in Oman.
The scientists tested different carbons for removal of certain pharmaceuticals like ciprofloxacin, paracetamol, fexofenadine, lisinoprril, diphenhydramine and chloropheneramine maleate from aquatic solutions.
The chemists also examined the removal of heavy metals and dyes.
The results showed that the cheap dehydrated carbon from date palm leaves prove to be as efficient as activated carbon for removing pharmaceuticals and dyes.
Al Shafey said the findings of the research would be soon utilised in a pilot project in hospital waste water treatment.
According to the researchers, hospitals consume a significant amount of water in a day, ranging from 400 to 1,200 litres per day per bed, and generate significant amounts of waste water usually loaded with microorganisms, heavy metals, hormones, radioactive isotopes, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, pigments, dyes and drug components.
Many antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, pain killers and endocrine chemicals were detected in waste water discharged from hospitals.
Al Shafey said the main challenge of pharmaceuticals was that many of these substances are not easily biodegradable as they bypass the biological waste water treatment and become ubiquitous in the environment.
Various levels of ciprofloxacin antibiotic were detected in sludge and soil and accumulated in vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber and barley in a recent study, the lead scientist said.