Wastewater chemicals converted into toxic form

While traces of pharmaceutical compounds are commonly present in wastewater, interactions with bacteria during the treatment process could transform them from non-toxic to toxic forms, a new study suggests.

Some drugs can occur in two forms, known as enantiomers. While they are chemically very similar, pairs of enantiomers can have drastically different effects on the human body, ranging from medically beneficial to highly toxic.

UNSW researchers monitored three common pharmaceuticals during wastewater treatment, including the anti-inflammatory drug naproxen.

They observed that some of the safe version of naproxen had been converted to the unsafe form, which could have negative environmental implications.

Read more at UNSW