UBCO develops tool to remove toxic chemicals from water systems

Removes toxins from water

Researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus have engineered a method to remove chemicals and pharmaceuticals from public water systems.

"Cleaning products, organic dyes and pharmaceuticals are finding their ways into water bodies with wide-ranging negative implications to health and the environment," explains Dr. Mohammad Arjmand, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UBC Okanagan.

Certain pharmaceuticals like a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate can be highly effective for cancer patients, but once the substance exits their bodies, they become a high risk for human health and the environment.

“Methotrexate is an anti-cancer drug used at a high dose in chemotherapy to treat cancer, leukemia, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases,” says Arjmand, a Canada Research chair in advanced materials and polymer engineering

“However, the drug is not absorbed by the body and ends up in water channels from hospital waste, sewage and surface waters.”

Looking at methods to remove the anti-cancer drugs from water supplies, the team designed a porous nanomaterial, called a metal-organic framework (MOF), that is capable of absorbing these pollutants from water.

“We precisely engineer the structure of our MOFs to remove the anti-cancer drug from aqueous solutions quickly,” says Dr. Farhad Ahmadijokani, a doctoral student in the Nanomaterials and Polymer Nanocomposites Laboratory directed by Arjmand.

The MOF is an affordable technique in which molecules of a chemical adhere to the surface of a solid substance.

“The high-adsorption capacity, good recyclability and excellent structural stability make our MOF an impressive candidate for the removal of methotrexate from the aqueous solutions,” he adds.

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