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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

The occurrence and fate of pharmaceutical residues from their sources to water bodies and food chain

PI: Othman Almashaqbeh (, Scientific Research / Royal Scientific Society
U.S. Partner: Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Project dates: December 2016 - April 2020

Project Overview:

Jordan is facing a future of very limited water resources, among the lowest in the world on a per capita basis. Water scarcity is the single most important natural constraint to the country’s economic growth and development. Therefore, wastewater reuse is increasingly viewed as the primary long-term strategy for conservation of limited freshwater resources. In Jordan, the reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation has been practiced since the 1980s to overcome the severe water shortage. In 1998, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation commenced a wastewater management policy, stating that wastewater is a resource and cannot be treated as waste. More than 129 million cubic meters of wastewater is treated and reused for irrigation in agriculture activities, which are considered as one of the highest reuse rates among the Arab countries (95%). The treated wastewater is mixed with freshwater at the dams and then used for unrestricted irrigation in Jordan. Given these water reuse practices, the potential threats posed pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in treated wastewater to water resources and the food chain through plant uptake merit evaluation.

The results of this project will provide a comprehensive overview of the occurrence and behavior of PPCPs in the Middle East and North Africa region. The research team will assess information on the impacts of wastewater irrigation on water quality and human health in the region and will establish a baseline on the level of pharmaceutical contamination in Jordan’s water supply, irrigation water specifically, and vegetables grown using it. Moreover, this project should also help the water authorities in Jordan and worldwide take effective measures to protect water resources (groundwater and surface water), protect public health from the impact of PPCPs, and facilitate the rational reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture. The partnership with the U.S. researcher will allow for capacity building of researchers at the Jordan Royal Scientific Society in conducting scientific research on the impacts of emerging pollutant accumulation in the aquatic environment. The project outcomes will be disseminated to appropriate stakeholders.

Summary of Recent Activities: 

During the first quarter of 2020, the project team received results of collected samples on 2018 were provided to RSS team April. These results will be interpreted by RSS and UNL team in May 2020. These samples (63 cartridges and 27 POCIS) were collected from all sites in 2018 (ground water aquifers (Azraq & Disi), drinking water (Zay water treatment plant & Zara and Mujib desalination plant), dams (King Talal Dam and Mujib Dam) and wastewater (As-Samra WWTP and Wadi Al-Seer WWTP) over four seasons.
The results of the collected samples for the pilot experiment conducted on 2018 were provided to RSS team on 10/4/2020. These results will be interpreted by RSS and UNL team on May 2020.

The project steering committee conducted a meeting on January 26 on WAJ premises. The PI of the project (Othman Almashaqbeh) delivered a full technical presentation describing the new results received by RSS from the UNL lab. These results are the concentration of 18 PPCPs in drinking water, surface water, groundwater and wastewater samples. Another presentation was delivered by the PI at the National Implementation Committee for Effective Integrated Wastewater Management in Jordan – NICE Workshop titled ” Save & Sustainable Wastewater Reuse in the MENA Region” organized by Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Grand Hyatt Hotel on 1st March.

Many project results were written in a conference paper titled “Modification of Zeolite for the Adsorption of Carbamazepine from Aqueous Solution Using Batch and Column Studies.” This paper was accepted for oral presentation at 8th Jordan International Civil Engineering Conference on Smart Civil Engineering. Unfortunately, due to unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the conference was postponed until further notice.

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