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Simultaneous removal of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes from pharmaceutical wastewater using the combinations of up-flow anaerobic sludge bed, anoxic-oxic tank, and advanced oxidation technologies

Hou, Jie, Chen, Zeyou, Gao, Ju, Xie, Yonglei, Li, Linyun, Qin, Songyan, Wang, Qing, Mao, Daqing, Luo, Yi
Water research 2019 v.159 pp. 511-520
ampicillin, antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes, enrofloxacin, oxidation, ozonation, sludge, sorption, sulfamethoxazole, tetracyclines, upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Pharmaceutical wastewater often contains high levels of antibiotic residues and serves as an important reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). However, the current pharmaceutical wastewater treatment plants (PWWTPs) were not sufficiently effective in removing antibiotics and ARGs. Here, we designed a lab-scale simulation reactor, including up-flow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB), anoxic-oxic tank (A/O), and four separate advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) i.e., UV, Ozonation, Fenton, and Fenton/UV, to simultaneously remove 18 antibiotics and 10 ARGs from a real pharmaceutical wastewater. The results showed that all antibiotics were fully eliminated through the reactor during 180 d-operation. Among all treatment units, UASB provided the greatest contribution (85.8 ± 16.1%) for the removal of 18 antibiotics. The mass balance results manifested that degradation was a predominant mechanism for the removal of tetracyclines, sulfamethoxazole, and ampicillin (62.5–80.9%), while sorption to sludge (73.9%) was predominant for enrofloxacin removal in UASB. Meanwhile, the substantial decrease of ARG absolute abundance (log reduction by 0.1–3.1 fold) through the whole reactor was observed although the existence of the partial enrichment (1.2–3.8 log units) from the influent to the A/O unit. Fenton/UV combination was the most effective AOP for the removal of ARGs. Finally, the optimum operating conditions for the removal of ARGs using Fenton was also proposed considering the relatively lower cost and high ARG elimination. Overall, this study provides feasible suggestions for the design of real PWWTPs for simultaneous removal of antibiotics and ARGs.