Sewage Treatment Plants for Hospitals
A hospital in a Developed country generates 400–1200 L wastewater per bed per day. The value of wastewater increases with the size of the hospital, the number of beds and departments.
This huge amount of contaminated wastewater, produced in hospitals has to be treated to meet the standards mandated by the state pollution boards (PCB) before it can be discharged into the sewer drains safely without harming public health and polluting the groundwater.
Hospital Wastewater Treatment: Why It’s Necessary?
Wastewater Treatment plants for hospitals are a must as the waste water contains a multitude of dangerous contaminants like antibiotics, drugs, blood, and other medical waste products like gauzes, as well as bacteria, viruses, and other disease causing pathogens like E. Coli. A growing body of evidence shows that incomplete hospital waste treatment contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria into the environment that can cause outbreaks of communicable diseases, diarrhea epidemics, and radioactive pollution.
The sewage from hospitals comes from various areas like the ICU, emergency rooms, canteens, laboratories and, from the pharmacies. This means you have a mix of excreta, human body parts, drugs, blood and human fluids, swabs, metals, etc. in the wastewater. Due to the diversity of contaminants, the toxicity of the hospital sewage can be 5–15 times greater than an urban sewage.
Hospital waste treatment, thus, is a really difficult task. Guidelines have been put in place so that this water can be treated and the dangerous elements in it are watered down to non- dangerous levels before this water reaches the municipal wastewater systems.
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STP Guidelines for Hospitals :
The Ministry of Forests and Environment mandates sewage treatment plants in a hospital with more than 10 beds. Thus, both big and small hospitals need to have small STPs on site for the proper treatment of liquid wastewater before discharge into municipal waste water streams.
The Biomedical Waste Management and Handling Rules- 2016 mandate the following for hospital waste water:
- pH 5.5–9.0
- BOD 5 <350 mg
- COD <250 mg
- Oil and grease≤20 mg
- Ammonical Nitrogen ≤50 mg
Wastewater Treatment Process in Hospitals: An Outline
The hospital wastewater treatment follows these 4 broad steps:
- Pre- Treatment– It eliminates inorganic solids and includes acid-base neutralization, filtration and sedimentation, or autoclaving
- Primary Treatment – To remove heavy solids
- Secondary Treatment– To remove dissolved biological matter (TDS) from wastewater
- Tertiary Treatment– This removes pathogens, excessive nutrients, and CODs.
Two systems of discharge are usually followed by hospitals in the country. Either the hospital wastewater is discharged into the municipal sewage system post pre-treatment or a small sewage treatment plant in hospital is operationalized on-site to treat effluent so it is suitable for reuse or discharge into the municipal sewage system.
Technologies Used for Treating Hospital Wastewater
Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR)– This is a commonly used STP tech used in hospital wastewater treatment.
It comprises of an activated sludge aeration system where the sludge is gathered on plastic carriers. These bacteria break down the organic matter from the wastewater. The aeration system helps the process by keeping the activated sludge in motion.
Hence, MBBR is very effective in removing organic substances from hospital wastewater.
MBBR is highly popular because it improves the efficiency of waste disposal with low energy consumption.
The Membrane Bioreactor Technology(MBR) :uses a perm-selective membrane to remove biodegradable organic carbon content. Ultrafiltration is integrated with a biological process like a suspended growth bioreactor in MBR.
It is useful in removing drugs from hospital sewage.
Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) :is a fill-and- draw-activated sludge system in which oxygen is bubbled through the mixture of wastewater and activated sludge to reduce the organic matter.
On-site treatment of Hospital wastewater can solve the problem of dilution and spread of pathogens from its discharge to a municipal sewer system.
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