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Efficient Treatment of Pharmaceutical Residue at Source (EPIC)

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Basic project information



Project description

Pharmaceuticals end up to the environment via waste water effluents and sludge. This creates challenges to the sludge use, despite its high nutrient content. Being a significant technical, economic and health issue, it is necessary to identify how the pharmaceutical residue in the environment and consequently food chain can be most cost-effectively minimized. Residues of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) enter the environment mainly as a result of consumption of pharmaceutical products (excretion) and via unused pharmaceutical waste or via emissions from pharmaceutical manufacturing plants., The complex behavior and impact of APIs in the environment is not yet well known, but there is indication of harmful effects of some groups of APIs (e.g. endocrine disrupting hormones, behavioral changes in organisms and antimicrobial resistance enhancing antibiotics) to ecosystems and some APIs are known to be extremely  persistent and bioaccumulative. Removing API residues at their original sources could be considered to be more cost efficient and technically feasible than their removal from effluents, sewage sludge, or drinking water.

Runaway Pharmaceuticals 556px
Figure 1. Runaway Pharmaceuticals?


This project aims to identify the APIs entering the waste water stream at different sources and testing cost-effective technological solutions to treat APIs at their primary emission sources. The different technologies will be tested in pilot studies. In support of new technologies, the project will seek pollution prevention instruments in collaboration with key stakeholders.

Work packages

EPIC Work Packages 556px
Figure 2. Research Organizations in charge of Work Packages (WP), Value Network and Contribution of WPs.

Project organization

EPIC logot 556 px
Figure 3. Partners in EPIC consortium.
EPIC organization 556px
Figure 4. Structure of the project organization. The researchers in charge are written in bold font.

Research partners and Coordinators

The Consortium of Project and SYKE: PhD, Leading Expert Taina Nystén
LUT: Professor Mika Mänttäri
HY: Title of Docent Tiina Sikanen

Subcontractor Law and Water: D.Sc. (Tech.), Water Expert Niina Vieno

Investigations at the test site

Rinnekoti composite sample bottling
A composite sample being bottled from the sampling container. © Lauri Äystö
Rinnekoti influent samples
Samples of influent waste water ready for shipping. © Lauri Äystö
Rinnekoti packing samples
Samples being packed with cool packs for shipping. © Lauri Äystö
Rinnekoti sludge stirred
Dewatered sewage sludge being stirred to produce a representative composite sample. © Lauri Äystö
Rinnekoti sludge canned
Sludge sample being canned for shipping © Lauri Äystö
Rinnekoti PCD 200 px
Equipment for PCD oxidation (Pulsed Corona Discharge) © Timo Vornamo


17.5.2019 Final seminar of the EPIC project
Nystén T. Policy brief Environmental drug load can be reduced & Efficient Treatment of Pharmaceutical Residue at Source – EPIC
Äystö L. Pharmaceutical load from primary emission sources to WWTPs and from WWTPs into the environment
Sikanen T. Biotransformation of drugs
Mänttäri M. How to get rid of pharmaceutical residue
Laitinen J. Cost-effectiveness of waste water treatment solutions at different sources
Mehtonen J. Pharmaceuticals in environmental permits
Teräsalmi E. Including environmental criteria for drug regulation
Karlsson S. Environmental classification of pharmaceuticals - Implementation to Finland
Vieno N. Conclusions of the EPIC 17.5.2019 seminar

6.9.2018 Techniques for removing pharmaceuticals from water
Mänttäri M. Evaluation of technologies for the removal of pharmaceuticals from wastewaters
Ek M. Advanced enzymatic degradation

More information

  • The Consortium of Project and WP5: FT, Leading Expert Taina Nystén, (SYKE)
  • WP1: M.Sc. (environmental science), Lauri Äystö (11/2016–11/2 017 & M.Sc. in Agriculture and Forestry (Limnology), Researcher Päivi Fjäder (SYKE),
  • WP2: Professori Mika Mänttäri (LUT),
  • WP3: M.Sc.(Tech), LicEcon, Leading expert Jyrki Laitinen (SYKE),
  • WP4: M.Sc. in Agriculture and Forestry (Limnology), Senior Coordinator, Jukka Mehtonen (SYKE),
Published 2016-09-14 at 10:50, updated 2019-07-05 at 10:03