• Pharmaceuticals and detergents in hospital and urban wastewater: characterisation and impacts
  • Published:

The SIPIBEL project: treatment of hospital and urban wastewater in a conventional urban wastewater treatment plant


Hospital wastewater (HWW) receives increasing attention because of its specific composition and higher concentrations of some micropollutants. Better knowledge of HWW is needed in order to improve management strategies and to ensure the preservation of wastewater treatment efficiency and freshwater ecosystems. This context pushed forward the development of a pilot study site named Site Pilote de Bellecombe (SIPIBEL), which collects and treats HWW separately from urban wastewater, applying the same conventional treatment process. This particular configuration offers the opportunity for various scientific investigations. It enables to compare hospital and urban wastewater, the efficiency of the two parallel treatment lines, and the composition of the resulting hospital and urban treated effluents, as well as the evaluation of their effects on the environment. The study site takes into account environmental, economic, and social issues and promotes scientific and technical multidisciplinary actions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Agence française de sécurité sanitaire de l’environnement et du travail-French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety


Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail-French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety


laboratoire national de référence pour la surveillance des milieux aquatiques-French reference laboratory for the monitoring of aquatic environments


Agence Regionale Sante Rhone-alpes-Rhône Alpes Health agency


Centre Hospitalier Alpes Léman


Commission internationale pour la protection des eaux du Léman-International Commission for the Protection of the water of the Geneva Lake


Ecole National de Travaux Publics de l’Etat


Environnement ville et Société-Environment, city and society


Groupe de Recherche Rhône Alpes sur les Infrastructures et l’Eau-Rhône Alpes Research Group on Infrastructure and Water


Hospital Wastewater


Institut de Chimie des Milieux et des Matériaux de Poitiers


Centre Alpin de Recherche sur les Réseaux Trophiques et Ecosystèmes Limniques

INSA Lyon:

Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon


Institut des Sciences Analytiques-Institute of Analytical Sciences of Lyon


office national eau milieu aquatiques-French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environment


Plan National sur les Résidus de Médicaments dans les eaux


Services Industriels de Genève


Site Pilote de Bellecombe


Urban Wastewater


Wastewater Treatment Plant


  1. Bergé A, Wiest L, Giroud B, Baudot R, Vulliet E (2017) Occurrence of multi-class surfactants in urban wastewater: contribution of a healthcare facility to the pollution transported into the sewerage system. Environ Sci Pollut Res (in this issue)

  2. Berlioz-Barbier A, Baudot R, Wiest L, Gust M, Garric J, Cren-Olive C, Bulete A (2015) MicroQuEChERS–nanoliquid chromatography–nanospray–tandem mass spectrometry for the detection and quantification of trace pharmaceuticals in benthic invertebrates. Alanta 132:796–802

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Chonova T, Keck F, Labanowski J, Montuelle B, Rimet F, Bouchez A (2016) Separate treatment of hospital and urban wastewaters: a real scale comparison of effluents and their effect on microbial communities. Sci Total Environ 542:965–975

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Chonova T, Labanowski J, Bouchez A (2017a) Contribution of hospital effluents to the load of micropollutants in WWTP influents. In: Verlicchi P (ed) Hospital wastewaters – characteristics, management, treatment and environmental risks. The handbook of environmental chemistry. Springer, Heidelberg. Environ Sci Pollut Res (in this issue)

  5. Chonova T, Labanowski J, Cournoyer B, Chardon C, Keck F, Laurent E, Mondamert L, Vasselon V, Wiest L, Bouchez A (2017b) River biofilm community changes related to pharmaceutical loads emitted by a wastewater treatment plant. Environ Sci Pollut Res (in this issue)

  6. Devaux A, Pesonen M, Monod G (1997) Alkaline comet assay in rainbow trout hepatocytes. Toxicol in Vitro 11(71–73):75–79

    Google Scholar 

  7. Eymery F, Choubert JM, Lepot B, Gasperi J, Lachenal J, Coquery M (2011) G1uide technique opérationnel: Pratiques d’échantillonnage et de conditionnement en vue de la recherche de micropolluants prioritaires et émergents en assainissement collectif et industriel, Version 1 Aquaref Cemagref, 85p

  8. Fent K, Weston AA, Caminada D (2006) Ecotoxicology of human pharmaceuticals. Aquat Toxicol 76:122–159

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. French Ministry of Environment (2016) Note technique du 12 août 2016 relative à la recherche de micropolluants dans les eaux brutes et les eaux usées traitées de stations de traitement des eaux usées et à leur reduction. http://www.ineris.fr/rsde/doc/note_technique_RSDE_STEU_2016_signeeDEB.pdf (in French)

  10. Gonzalez-Ospina A, Domenjoud B, Vulliet E, Kiss A, Berge A, Bony S, Devaux A, Wigh A, Aït-Aïssa S, Baig S (2016) Pharmaceutical compounds removal in wastewater plants by biological treatments and tertiary ozonation. Tech Sci Méthodes. 6-111:45–58 (in French)

  11. Joss A, Keller E, Alder AC, Göbel A, McArdell CS, Ternes T, Siegrist H (2005) Removal of pharmaceuticals and fragrances in biological wastewater treatment. Water Res 39:3139–3152

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Jugan ML, Oziol L, Bimbot M, Huteau V, Tamisier-Karolak S, Blondeau JP, Lévi Y (2009) In vitro assessment of thyroid and estrogenic endocrine disruptors in wastewater treatment plants, rivers and drinking water supplies in the greater Paris area (France). Sci Total Environ 407:3579–3587

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Kienzler A, Tronchère X, Devaux A, Bony S (2012) Assessment of RTG-W1, RTL-W1, and PLHC-1 fish cell lines for genotoxicity testing of environmental pollutants by means of a Fpg-modified comet assay. Toxicol in Vitro 26:500–510

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Kiss A, Bergé A, Domenjoud B, Gonzalez-Ospina A, Vulliet E (2017) Chemometric and high-resolution mass spectrometry tools for the characterization and comparison of raw and treated wastewater samples. Environ Sci Pollut Res (in this issue)

  15. Labanowski J, Laurent E, Chonova T, Bouchez A, Cournoyer B, Marjolet L, Marti R, Mondamert L (2016) Hospital effluents and environmental persistence of pathogenic bacteria and pharmaceutical compounds – the Persist-Env approach. Tech Sci Méthodes. 6:22–30 (in French)

  16. Lachassagne D, Casellas M, Graveleau L, Gonzalez-Ospina A, Dagot C (2013) Trace metallic element behaviour in regards to sludge characteristics prior to land application. J Residuals Sci Technol 10(2):109–115

    Google Scholar 

  17. Laquaz M, Dagot C, Bazin C, Bastide T, Gaschet M, Ploy MC, Perrodin Y (2017) Ecotoxicity and antibiotic resistance of a mixture of hospital and urban sewage in a wastewater treatment plant.

  18. Laurent E (2013) Évaluation de l’état de contamination des bassins versants par les résidus de médicaments: utilisation des biofilms épilithiques comme marqueur d’imprégnation du milieu. PhD, University of Poitiers

  19. NoPills report, Interreg IV B NWE project partnership 2012 – 2015 (2015) No pills in waters. Available on the website http://www.no-pills.eu/conference/BS_NoPills_Final%20Report_long_EN.pdf

  20. Orias F, Perrodin Y (2013) Characterisation of the ecotoxicity of hospital effluents: a review. Sci Total Environ 454–455:250–276

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Orias F, Simon L, Perrodin Y (2015) Experimental assessment of the bioconcentration of 15N-tamoxifen in Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata. Aquat Toxicol 2015:122–125

    Google Scholar 

  22. Perrodin Y, Bazin C, Bony S, Devaux A, Roch A, Brelot E (2013) A priori assessment of ecotoxicological risks linked to building a hospital. Chemosphere 90:1037–1046

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Perrodin Y, Bazin C, Orias F, Bastide T, Wigh A, Berlioz-Barbier A, Vuillet E, Wiest L (2016) A posteriori assessment of ecotoxicological risks linked to building a hospital. Chemosphere 144:440–445

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Petrovic M, Sole M, Lopez de Alda MJ, Barcelo D (2002) Endocrine disruptors in sewage treatment plants, receiving river waters, and sediments: integration of chemical analysis and biological effects on feral carp. Environ Toxicol Chem 21:2146–2156

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Pills report (2012) Pharmaceutical residues in the aquatic system – a challenge for the future. Insights and activities of the European cooperation project PILLS. Available at the website http://www.pills-project.eu/PILLS_summary_english.pdf

  26. Pouzol T, Kopf C, Lévi Y, Bertrand-Krajewski J-L (2016) Stochastic modelling of pharmaceuticals path from sales and deliveries to wastewater treatment plant at hourly scale. Proceedings of SPN 8-8th international conference on Sewer Processes and Networks, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 31 Aug.-2 Sept

  27. Sipibel Report (2016) Effluents hospitaliers et stations d’épuration urbaines: caractérisation, risques et traitabilité – Synthèse des résultats de quatre années de suivi, d’études et de recherche sur le site pilote de Bellecombe. Available at the web site from September 2016: http://www.graie.org/Sipibel/publications.html. (in French)

  28. Stalder T, Barraud O, Jove T, Casellas M, Gaschet M, Dagot C, Ploy MC (2013) Quantitative and qualitative impact of hospital effluent on dissemination of the integron pool. ISME J 8:768–777 1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Verlicchi P, Al Aukidy M, Galletti A, Petrovic M, Barceló D (2012) Hospital effluent: investigation of the concentrations and distribution of pharmaceuticals and environmental risk assessment. Sci Total Environ 430:109–118

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. White PA, Rasmussen JB, Blaise C (1996) A semi-automated, microplate version of the SOS Chromotest for the analysis of complex environmental extracts. Mutat Res/Environ Mutagen Relat Subj 360:51–74

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. WHO (2014) Progress on sanitation and drinking-water −2014 update. WHO press, Geneva 76 p

    Google Scholar 

  32. Wiest L, Chonova T, Bergé A, Baudot R, Bessueille-Barbier F, Ayouni-Derouiche L, Vulliet E (2017) Two year survey of specific hospital wastewater treatment and its impact on pharmaceutical discharges

Download references


The SIPIBEL observatory partners are grateful to the following supporters and co-financing institutions: Rhône-Méditerranée-Corse Water Agency, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Council, European Union, Haute-Savoie Department, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Health Agency, French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environment (ONEMA), French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), French Ministry in charge of Environment and French Ministry in charge of Health.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Teofana Chonova.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chonova, T., Lecomte, V., Bertrand-Krajewski, J. et al. The SIPIBEL project: treatment of hospital and urban wastewater in a conventional urban wastewater treatment plant. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 9197–9206 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9302-0

Download citation


  • Hospital wastewater
  • Urban wastewater
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Observatory
  • Project management
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Activated sludge
  • Environmental risk assessment