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Pharmaceutical Waste Treatment and Disposal Practices Part II: Pharmaceutical Solid and Gaseous Waste Treatment. Dr. Alaadin A. Bukhari Centre for Environment and Water Research Institute KFUPM. PRESENTATION OUTLINES. Introduction Objectives of Treatment

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Pharmaceutical Waste Treatment and Disposal PracticesPart II: Pharmaceutical Solid and Gaseous Waste Treatment

Dr. Alaadin A. Bukhari

Centre for Environment and Water

Research Institute




  • Introduction
  • Objectives of Treatment
  • Incineration of Pharmaceutical Waste
  • Air Pollution Control
  • Disposal Practices
  • Landfilling
  • Conclusions


  • Solid Pharmaceutical Waste Generation
  • Stages of Pharmaceutical Waste Generation
  • Pharmaceutical Waste Composition
  • Importance of Treatment
solid pharmaceutical waste generation
  • About 200,000 tons of sludge produced by pharmaceutical industry only In USA during 1983 (Nemerow 1984; Arthur. little 1975; TRW Env. Engg. Div. 1979).
  • Ireland generates about 11,110 tons of solid pharmaceutical wastes annually (Henery et al. 1996)
In USA on average a single plant generated 200 tons of acetone pollution during the production of drugs (EPA, 1998)
  • More than 1,10,000 pharmaceutical products are currently in the market (EPA, 1998)
  • Around 10 kg/head of population per year or around 700,000 ton a year of hazardous waste generated in Saudi Arabia (UNEP, 1998)
stages of pharmaceutical waste generation
  • In the pharmaceutical manufacturing industries, waste generated mainly at three stages during the production of pharmaceuticals (US. EPA, 1998)
pharmaceutical waste composetion
  • Organic chemical residues from manufacturing processes
  • Helogenated/non-helogenated sludges and solids
  • Sludge & tars
  • Heavy metals
  • Test animal remains
Return pharmaceuticals
  • Low-level radioactive waste
  • Biological products including materials extracted from biological materials such as vaccines, serums, and various plasma derivatives.
  • Contaminated gloves, filters, clothings, etc
importance of treatment

Treatment of solid pharmaceutical waste has great importance because of (Wagner 1991)

  • Safety related properties
    • corrosive (solvents and acids used in the preparation of some medicine)
    • flammable (most of the medicines containing alcohol, sprit, tincture etc.)
    • reactive (organic acids used as a component in the preparation of some pain killers and syrups)
    • ignitable (most of the solvents used in the preparation of medicines)
Health related properties
    • irritant (allergic response e.g. penicillin, ferric compounds)
    • toxic when ingestion (medicines for external use e.g. tincture, potassium iodide etc.)
    • radioactive (medicines used for chemotherapy and cancer treatment)
    • carcinogenic ( persistent use of some medicines)
Treatment of pharmaceutical waste is very important because improper disposal may also have an adverse effect on land values, create public nuisances, otherwise; the failure or inability to salvage and reuse such materials economically results in the unnecessary waste and depletion of natural resources (Eliassen, 1969).
treatment or disposal
Treatment or Disposal
  • There is not much treatment of solid pharmaceutical waste. Most of the time solid waste is disposed of.
  • Separation and reprocessing of some of the solid waste also done for recycling purpose.
  • Incineration and landfilling of pharmaceutical solid waste is most common.
objective of pharmaceutical waste treatment
  • The objectives of pharmaceutical waste treatment are the destruction or recovery for reuse and/or the conversion of these substances to innocuous forms that are acceptable for uncontrolled disposal.
incineration of pharmaceutical waste
  • Incineration is one of the best techniques for treating hazardous waste (Crumpler and Martin, 1987;US. EPA)
    • It can be use to recover heat energy
    • Use as volume reduction method
    • Use for preheating combustion air
    • Detoxification of toxic material can be done by destroying the organic molecular structure through oxidation or thermal degradation
    • Long-term cost of land disposal is likely to be greater than the short-term cost of incineration.
determination of the appropriateness of a waste for incineration
  • Is the waste or combination of wastes suitable for incineration?
  • What type of incineration equipment is required?
  • What capacity is needed?
  • What is the incineration cost vis-à-vis other management options?
major types of incinerators
  • Grate Type of Incinerator

It is a low temperature incinerator. It is useful for volume reduction of bulky waste.

  • Hearth-Type Incinerator

Most solid hazardous waste is burned in hearth-type systems of which there are several basic types:

    • The rotary kiln
    • A "controlled air" or "two chamber fixed hearth" system
    • The multiple hearth incinerator
    • The monohearth (seldom used)
Fludized-Bed Incinerator

Liquids, sludges as well as uniformly sized solids can be incinerated in it

  • In USA hearth-type systems are common
  • Following types of incinerator are in operation
    • Rotary Kiln incinerators accounts for 75%
    • Two-chamber, fixed-hearth 15%
    • Multiple-hearth and fluidised bed 10%
incinerator in saudi arabia
Incinerator in Saudi Arabia
  • Substantial amount of hazardous waste being generated in Saudi Arabia due to rapid industrialisation over three decades
  • In 1994 Gov. of Saudi Arabia made a contract with BeeA'h to provide incineration and support facilities
  • BeeA’h is now operating an incinerator in Al-Jubail City Saudi Arabia
table 3 typical operating conditions for incinerators
Table 3. Typical Operating conditions for Incinerators

Incinerator Type Temp. SRT (hr)GRT (sec)

  • Rotary Kiln 820-1600 0.3-1 1-3
  • Fluidized Bed 760-980 10 1-12
  • Catalytic Reactor 320-820 -- < 1
  • Multiple Hearth 720-980 30-90 0.25-3
  • Multi Chamber 800-1000 5-30 1- 4
  • Pyrolysis 480-820 12-15 1-3
air pollution control from pharmaceutical gaseus emission
  • Air pollution may results from the exhaust gases release, during incineration operation
  • Release of pharmaceutical gases into the atmosphere is strongly prohibited and air pollution control is required
Most of incinerator air pollution control systems required two functional elements
    • particulate removal from flue gases
    • removal of acid gases
  • Particulate and acid gases are usually controlled with scrubbers. These scrubbers operate on two mechanisms:
    • physical removal of particulate, and
    • chemical removal by absorption and neutralization of the acid gases
objectives can be achieve by the use of
Objectives can be achieve by the use of
  • Afterburners ( Sec. Combustion Chamber )
    • It is required for solid hazardous waste incineration because the primary chamber does not provide enough time, turbulence or temperature to destroy the organic components of the waste to the required Destruction and Reduction Efficiency (DRE).
Scrubbers (Venturi, orifice etc.)
    • Particulate removal can be done by dry, wet or by wet-dry combination methods

The dry, particulate removal methods include

    • Impaction-baffles and screens
    • Centrifugal separation -- cyclone separators
    • Filtration-fabric filters
    • Electrostatic-precipitators
Wet methods, which employ water as a medium, include
  • Impaction-packed and tray columns
  • Centrifugal separation-wet cyclones
  • Particle wetting-ventures and similar units
  • Particle conditioning and wetting-collision scrubber
  • Electrostatic-wet ionizer/precipitator
typical scrubbing systems
Typical Scrubbing Systems
  • Wet spray towers
  • Dry spray towers
  • Packed wet scrubbers
  • Plate Scrubbers
  • Electrostatic precipitator
  • Wet electrostatic precipitators
disposal practices of pharmaceutical waste
  • The safe and reliable long-term disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste residues is an important component of integrated waste management.
  • Solid waste residues generated by pharmaceutical industry, are components that are not recycled, that remain after processing at a material recovery facility, or that remain after the recovery of conversion products and/or energy
factors require consideration in the management disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste
Factors require consideration in the management/disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste
  • Potential hazardous nature of the waste material
  • Relatively large volume of material that must be safely and efficiently handled, transported and/or disposed of
  • Effect of the disposal method on the public and environment
  • Social factors
  • Cost economics
important considerations to determine the suitability of solid waste disposal sits
Important considerations to determine the suitability of solid waste disposal sits
  • Technical feasibility of the construction and operation of the installation
  • Environmental control
  • The social importance of other interests in the exploitation and utilisation of the area
  • Economics of construction and operation of the installation.
steps for the disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste nemerow 1978
Steps for the disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste (Nemerow, 1978)
  • Segregation
  • Volume reduction
  • Incineration
  • Ultimate disposal
    • Landfill disposal: Common land filling methods are
      • .Mixing with soil
      • .Shallow burial
      • .Combination of these
Deep-well disposal
    • Material pumped into subsurface rock separated from other groundwater supplies by impermeable rock or clay. (In USA more than 100 wells are used for disposal)
  • Land burial disposal
    • Disposal accomplished by either near-surface or deep burial
    • In near-surface burial material could be disposed directly into the ground or is disposed in stainless steel tanks or concrete lined pits beneath the ground. At the present time, only near surface burial is used for disposal of pharmaceutical wastes
Ocean dumping and detonation are some of expensive waste disposal methods
  • Detonation is a processes of exploding a quantity of waste with sudden violence
    • .Thermal Shock
    • .Mechanical Shock
    • .Electrostatic charge

This method mainly used for flammable and volatile waste materials

  • Landfills are physical facilities used for the disposal of residual solid wastes in the surface soils of the earth
  • US. EPA defines landfill as a system designed and constructed to contain discarded waste so as to minimize releases of contaminants to the environment
  • Solid pharmaceutical waste usually incinerated but in some places (e.g. California) most of the solid PW is landfilled (Nemerow, 1984).
landfills are necessary because
Landfills are necessary because
  • Other hazardous waste management technologies such as source reduction, recycling, and waste minimization cannot totally eliminate the waste generated and
  • Hazardous waste treatment technologies such as incineration and biological treatment produce residues
following guidelines improve the waste management disposal system epa 1972
Following guidelines improve the waste management/disposal system (EPA, 1972)
  • Sanitation: Control all conditions that contribute to contamination, spread of disease, infection and the irritation, discomfort or impairment of bodily functions through inhalation, ingestion, or contact
  • Safety: Control of all conditions relating to prevention of accidents or catastrophes that could cause personal injury or property damage.
Security: Prevention of unauthorised access to waste handling and disposal areas to eliminate pilferage or salvage of hazardous waste, and accidental contact with contaminated materials
  • Aesthetics: Public and users acceptability in terms of appearance, noise, odours, psychological factors, convenience, workability of the system, etc
conclusions of presentation
Conclusions of Presentation
  • Treatment of pharmaceutical solid/gaseous waste is important from health and safety related properties
  • There is not much treatment of solid pharmaceutical waste. Most of the time solid waste is disposed of
  • Disposal of solid pharmaceutical waste and elimination of the emissions from incinerator operations are very important to protect the land, water bodies and atmospheric environment
conclusions of presentation continued
Conclusions of Presentation (continued)
  • Landfills are most popular final disposal technique
  • Proper design of incinerators and landfills is important to fulfil the regulatory requirements
  • Proper planning, design, and operation are the key points involved in the disposal of such waste