Water implications in dialysis therapy, threats and opportunities to reduce water consumption: a call for the planet

Elsevier, Kidney International, Volume 104, July 2023
Ben Hmida M., Mechichi T., Piccoli G.B., Ksibi M.

Water is a dwindling natural resource, and potable water is wrongly considered an unlimited resource. Dialysis, particularly hemodialysis, is a water-hungry treatment that impacts the environment. The global annual water use of hemodialysis is approximately 265 million m3/yr. In this reference estimate, two-thirds of this water is represented by reverse osmosis reject water discharged into the drain. In this review, we would like to draw attention to the complexity and importance of water saving in hemodialysis. We propose that circular water management may comply with the “3R” concept: reduce (reduce dialysis need, reduce dialysate flow, and optimize reverse osmosis performance), reuse (reuse wastewater as potable water), and recycle (dialysis effluents for agriculture and aquaponic use). Awareness and sustainability should be integrated to create positive behaviors. Effective communication is crucial for water savings because local perspectives may lead to global opportunities. Besides the positive environmental impacts, planet-friendly alternatives may have significant financial returns. Innovative policies based on the transition from linear to circular water management may lead to a paradigm shift and establish a sustainable water management model. This review seeks to support policymakers in making informed decisions about water use, avoiding wasting, and finding solutions that may be planet friendly and patient friendly in dialysis, especially in hemodialysis treatments.