Antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria/genes in urban wastewater: a comparison of their fate in conventional treatment systems and constructed wetlands

Moushumi Harza*, Himanshu Joshi, John Williams, Joy Watts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is a growing concern that the use and misuse of antibiotics can increase the detection of antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) in wastewater. Conventional wastewater treatment plants provide a pathway for ARGs and antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) to be released into natural water bodies. Research has indicated that conventional primary and secondary treatment systems can reduce ARGs/ARB to varying degrees. However, in developing/low-income countries, only 8–28% of wastewater is treated via conventional treatment processes, resulting in the environment being exposed to high levels of ARGs, ARB and pharmaceuticals in raw sewage. The use of constructed wetlands (CWs) has the potential to provide a low-cost solution for wastewater treatment, with respect to removal of nutrients, pathogens, ARB/ARGs either as a standalone treatment process or when integrated with conventional treatment systems. Recently, CWs have also been employed for the reduction of antibiotic residues, pharmaceuticals, and emerging contaminants. Given the benefits of ARG removal, low cost of construction, maintenance, energy requirement, and performance efficiencies, CWs offer a promising solution for developing/low-income countries. This review promotes a better understanding of the performance efficiency of treatment technologies (both conventional systems and CWs) for the reduction of antibiotics and ARGs/ARB from wastewater and explores workable alternatives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number135148
Number of pages16
JournalChemosphere
Volume303
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 2 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • wastewater treatment plant
  • treated effluent
  • tertiary treatment
  • microbial pollutants
  • antibiotic resistance
  • constructed wetlands

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