Occurrence and removal of antibiotics and the corresponding resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants: effluents' influence to downstream water environment

Jianan Li, Weixiao Cheng, Like Xu, Yanan Jiao, Shams Ali Baig, Hong Chen
Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 2016, 23 (7): 6826-35
In this study, the occurrence of 8 antibiotics [3 tetracyclines (TCs), 4 sulfonamides, and 1 trimethoprim (TMP)], 12 antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) (10 tet, 2 sul), 4 types of bacteria [no antibiotics, anti-TC, anti-sulfamethoxazole (SMX), and anti-double], and intI1 in two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were assessed and their influences in downstream lake were investigated. Both WWTPs' effluent demonstrated some similarities, but the abundance and removal rate varied significantly. Results revealed that biological treatment mainly removed antibiotics and ARGs, whereas physical techniques were found to eliminate antibiotic resistance bacteria (ARBs) abundance (about 1 log for each one). UV disinfection did not significantly enhance the removal efficiency, and the release of the abundantly available target contaminants from the excess sludge may pose threats to human and the environment. Different antibiotics showed diverse influences on the downstream lake, and the concentrations of sulfamethazine (SM2) and SMX were observed to increase enormously. The total ARG abundance ascended about 0.1 log and some ARGs (e.g., tetC, intI1, tetA) increased due to the high input of the effluent. In addition, the abundance of ARB variation in the lake also changed, but the abundance of four types of bacteria remained stable in the downstream sampling sites.

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