Wastewater from hospitals can contain traces of viruses, bacteria, chemicals for cancer treatments, hormones disrupting substances and just about anything else

Hospitals and pharmaceuticals

Wastewater produced by hospitals and clinical facilities originates from many sources. To understand the characteristics of the water and plan pre-treatments needed prior to discharge into the public sewer network, it is useful to understand what these sources are. The diagram below shows what some of these sources are and how Detectronic can help hospitals understand and manage hospital wastewater networks.


Wastewater from hospitals can contain traces of viruses, bacteria, chemicals for cancer treatments, hormones disrupting substances and just about anything else. If untreated, hospital wastewater entering a public sewer or discharged into the environment could cause pose a hazard to public health and aquatic life. Other types of facilities may include:

clinical labs

The types of processes performed in a clinical laboratory can include pathology, chemistry, hematology, microbiology, toxicology and urinalysis. Through these processes, wastewater might contain heavy metals, blood and body fluids, phosphates, formaldehyde and particulate materials. A mix of these could well result in the wastewater with higher biological demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) levels .

Research labs

Studies conducted in these facilities will be diverse and could range from infectious disease control to blood chemistry. Depending on the studies being conducted a facility could be one single laboratory producing a small amount of waste to a huge facility producing thousands of gallons a day. The wastewater produced may be sporadic with large quantities produced over a small period, followed by virtually nothing for another period of time.


There are typically three categories of wastewater:

Blackwater – Heavily polluted wastewater containing high concentrations of feacal matter, food residues and toxic chemicals.

Greywater – Low polluted wastewater with residues from processes such as washing, laboratory processes, laundry and  cooling water.

Stormwater – Rainwater runoff collected from roofs, grounds and paved surfaces.

Municipal wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to treat raw wastewater from hospitals and therefore it must be pre-treated before being discharged. A typical consent licence issued by the local authority will contain maximum limits of the following parameters which a facility must adhere to:

✔  Flow

✔  Temperature

✔   pH

✔   Total suspended solids

✔   BOD

✔   COD

✔   Nitrate

✔   Total phosphorus

✔   E. coli concentration

wastewater monitoring

Detectronic are wastewater specialists and can implement continuous monitoring of key parameters to ensure a facility remains within the limits of their consent licence.

The ORAKEL System is a versatile solution that allows a user to add multiple sensors to one controller, making it a cost effective solution. Not only can water quality parameters be monitored, the ORAKEL is available with a selection of flow monitoring configurations.

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Flow monitoring

Water used within Pharmaceutical plants may include sterile purified water for cleaning or for injection. The best solution for monitoring these types of water are non-intrusive clamp on flow meters, such as the ORAKEL TOF flow meter.

Flow measurement is also necessary for the production of liquid medicines, syrups and solutions. Because the ORAKEL TOF is a clamp on flow meter, the transducers are attached to the exterior of the pipe. It can measure any liquid with >10% solids and can be attached to most pipes, be they plastic, stainless steel, iron or glass.

The ORAKEL TOF clamp on flow meter can be used for permanent or temporary installations. It can be retrofitted, and can be easily moved. This flexibility makes the ORAKEL TOF ideal for applications where the spot checking of flow is needed.

related case studies


Following increases in production, a large pharmaceutical company in the UK was at risk of exceeding its limit for flow rate, daily volume and COD discharges.

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