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Simultaneous sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim removal and biofilm growth characteristics in attached growth bioreactor

Azimi, N., Najafpour, G.D., Hassani, A.H., Borghei, S.M.
International journal of environmental science and technology 2018 v.15 no.2 pp. 415-426
antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, bacteria, biofilm, biomass, bioreactors, chemical oxygen demand, fungi, organic matter, scanning electron microscopy, sewage, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, wastewater
Antibiotic contamination of aqueous environment due to pharmaceutical sewage may lead to development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strain. In this research, elimination of antibiotics from synthetic wastewater was investigated. For this purpose, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim were treated by a pilot scale of net-like rotating biological contactor with three compartments, 48 plastic discs with total volume of 78.75 L. This system was continuously operated for about one year at various organic loading rates with different antibiotic dosages. The obtained results indicated that by increasing hydraulic retention time, the chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal was gradually increased. The optimal hydraulic retention time for desired rate of COD removal was 36 h. In addition, the effect of hydraulic retention time, organic load rate and sulfamethoxazole concentration in the removal of sulfamethoxazole and organic matter was assessed. Moreover, the results demonstrated that with increasing in organic load rate, sulfamethoxazole elimination was enhanced. In the next step, simultaneous removal of both antibiotics for constant inlet COD concentration of 8000 mg/L at optimum hydraulic retention time was analysed. The results showed that trimethoprim removal efficiency was approximately 100%, even at high concentration of trimethoprim (50 mg/L). For observation of dominant microorganism, samples of the developed biofilm on rotating biological contactor discs were scanned by scanning electron microscopy. In the first compartment where biomass was exposed to highest concentration of antibiotics, fungus strains were the dominant organism. In the second and third compartment antibiotic-resistant bacteria were the dominant attached living organisms.