Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
New Contributor

Enzymes to Clean Pollution

I was reading recently about environmental remediation being done, using an esterase to break down / neutralize cocaine that had contaminated waterways in Europe. Are there similar enzymes that can be used to safely break down pharmaceutical drugs, like surplus SSRIs and neuroleptics, that medical staff at a workplace might just be flushing down the toilet thus causing more pollution? A way to metabolize them before disposal?

0 Kudos
1 Reply
Contributor III

Re: Enzymes to Clean Pollution

Dear Chris,

Unless they are all in a particular class (functional group) of compounds, a different enzyme (or other reaction would be needed for each pharmaceutical. Further, the existence of such compounds does not necessarily mean that they would be inexpensive, easy to process (especially in mixed streams) or wouldn’t themselves result in further polluting effluents.

From you description of the situation I’d say that there is a much more serious protocol issue if excess, out-of-date, or used products are just “flushed” be the staff! That does not sound like appropriate active biologics disposal in ANY civilized jurisdiction. Remember that “Sustainability” is all about first REPLACING harmful materials when possible, THEN Reducing their usage, and only finally Recycling or repurposing them into other useful products. We really don’t want to create, much less encourage and environment or process where we just assume whatever “waste” will somehow be “treated” The GOAL is to ELIMINATE the waste in the first place.

Succeeding in proper application and use will go a long way in eliminating any need for remedial action.

Best regards,


0 Kudos