Pilot project to reduce water pollution – Fraunhofer ISI launches a practice-based study in Ulm

X-ray contrast agents are used as excipients in diagnostics and are excreted by patients in urine within 24 hours. They are not readily biodegradable in wastewater treatment plants and as a result end up almost unchanged in bodies of water. One way to reduce their emission to water is to collect patients’ urine separately during the first day after the examination. The idea is to use disposable bags containing an absorbent granulate that binds the urine and makes odorless disposal possible in household waste. Currently, waste incineration is the safest way to dispose of pharmaceuticals.

Previous studies have focused on ways to collect x-ray contrast agents in hospitals. So far, there have not been any studies of capturing x-ray contrast agents in the context of doctors’ surgeries or outpatient care. To successfully reduce x-ray contrast agents using such collection systems, the acceptance and utilization of the systems by staff and patients plays a decisive role. Acceptance studies are therefore an important part of the activities in MindER. Large-scale surveys aim to gather information about how willing patients and medical staff are to integrate urine collection into their daily schedules. Questionnaires are used to gather information about staff and patients’ experiences with the use of urine collection bags in the MindER project.

The possible degree of collection and therefore the effectiveness of mobile collection systems for x-ray contrast agents discharged in urine are analyzed in this way and can be assessed from different aspects. For instance, questions of economic efficiency can be highlighted using the ratio of costs to achievable reduction of water pollution.

The project aims to provide information about whether a widespread separate collection and disposal of urine containing x-ray contrast agents is an efficient and sensible measure in terms of water protection.

The project is being funded by Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector and conducted by the Fraunhofer ISI.

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