The noPILLS project

Why `noPILLS´ ?

Today about 3.000 pharmaceutical active substances have permits in Europe and – after consumption – are more or less excreted by the body.
The EU published the new draft annex for the Water Framework Directive in Jan. 2012 and after negotiation in parliament then added on July 2nd 2013 three pharmaceuticals to a “watch list” of emerging pollutants that could one day be placed on the priority list.

The new law acknowledges the risks posed by three widely-used pharmaceuticals (the hormonal preparations 17alphaethinylestradiol and 17beta-estradiol and the painkiller Diclofenac) and asks the European Commission to develop a strategic approach to the risks posed by pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment.

Point source treatment may reduce the concentrated discharge at e.g. hospitals but in proportion to the consumption in private households other approaches are needed to reduce these micropollutants in the water cycle. A wide range of advanced techniques at municipal waste water treatment plants would mean enormous costs for water users.
noPILLS will address the question if or how other strategies can be promising in the long term that are starting at the input instead elimination end-of-the-pipe, not only focussing on the pharmaceuticals listed in the WFD annex but in general the need to reduce pharmaceutical micropollutants.

Learning from the previous PILLS project the noPILLS project widens the frame now towards pharmaceuticals in sewage and active change of consumer’s behaviour (first in test areas). One finding in the pills project was e.g. that about 70% of the consumed “medicine cocktail” may be excreted or washed off.
Depending on local situations, in many catchment areas point source treatment at hospitals can only reach residues up to 20% of the total emission, noPILLS addresses the remaining 80%, how consumers behaviour  in test regions can be governed and so reduced adaptation of waste water treatment facilities with less expensive “high tech” would be possible.