To be marketable, waste-derived products must concentrate resources and minimize contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, viruses, and bacteria. Determining the fate of contaminants can address public concerns and facilitate regulatory approval for waste-derived products, two barriers to adoption of resource recovery. In the Tarpeh Lab, we are currently screening thousands of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites in urine treatment processes with two major goals: correlating chemical structure with compound fate and identifying indicator pharmaceuticals to compare treatment processes. In future mechanistic studies we will identify transformation products, conduct quantitative risk assessment, and identify optimal monitoring locations during resource recovery treatment.
Pathogen inactivation is another direction of our future research. We investigate ammonia disinfectants as an unexplored value-added product that can be extracted from wastewaters. In the long-term, analysis of urine pharmaceuticals and microbes may be used to assess community and individual health through toilets and waste collection systems.