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Distribution of antibiotic resistance in the effluents of ten municipal wastewater treatment plants in China and the effect of treatment processes

Ben, Weiwei, Wang, Jian, Cao, Rukun, Yang, Min, Zhang, Yu, Qiang, Zhimin
Chemosphere 2017 v.172 pp. 392-398
antibiotic resistance, bacteria, disinfection, effluents, genes, municipal wastewater, risk, statistical analysis, sulfonamides, tetracycline, wastewater treatment, China
Municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents represent an important contamination source of antibiotic resistance, threatening the ecological safety of receiving environments. In this study, the release of antibiotic resistance to sulfonamides and tetracyclines in the effluents of ten WWTPs in China was investigated. Results indicate that the concentrations of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) ranged from 1.1 × 101 to 8.9 × 103 CFU mL−1 and 3.6 × 101 (tetW) to 5.4 × 106 (tetX) copies mL−1, respectively. There were insignificant correlations of the concentrations of ARB and ARGs with those of corresponding antibiotics. Strong correlations were observed between the total concentrations of tetracycline resistance genes and sulfonamide resistance genes, and both of which were significantly correlated with intI1 concentrations. Statistical analysis of the effluent ARG concentrations in different WWTPs revealed an important role of disinfection in eliminating antibiotic resistance. The release rates of ARB and ARGs through the effluents of ten WWTPs ranged from 5.9 × 1012 to 4.8 × 1015 CFU d−1 and 6.4 × 1012 (tetW) to 1.7 × 1018 (sul1) copies d−1, respectively. This study helps the effective assessment and scientific management of ecological risks induced by antibiotic resistance discharged from WWTPs.