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Fate of pharmaceuticals and antibiotic resistance genes in a full-scale on-farm livestock waste treatment plant

Gros, Meritxell, Marti, Elisabet, Balcázar, José Luis, Boy-Roura, Mercè, Busquets, Anna, Colón, Joan, Sànchez-Melsió, Alexandre, Lekunberri, Itziar, Borrego, Carles M., Ponsá, Sergio, Petrovic, Mira
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.378 pp. 120716
anaerobic digestion, animal wastes, antibiotic resistance genes, flubendazole, flunixin, fluoroquinolones, liquids, permeates, reverse osmosis, slaughterhouse wastes, tetracycline, veterinary drugs, waste treatment
This study investigated, for the first time, the distribution and fate of 28 multiple-class veterinary pharmaceuticals and antibiotics (PhACs), and their corresponding antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), in a full-scale on-farm livestock waste treatment plant. The plant relies on several technologies, including: anaerobic digestion (AD), solid-liquid separation, and two stages reverse osmosis (RO) of the liquid digestate. Tetracycline, fluoroquinolone, lincosamide and pleuromutilin antibiotics, together with anti-helmintic (flubendazole) and anti-inflammatory (flunixin) drugs were the most frequently detected compounds in livestock waste and in slaughterhouse sludge. This last fraction is used as co-substrate in the AD process and showed to be an important input source of PhACs and ARGs. In terms of treatment performance, AD exhibited moderate to low PhACs and ARGs reduction, while a large fraction (<50%) of the PhACs present in the digestate were distributed onto the solid fraction, after solid-liquid separation. Both solid and liquid digestates had relatively high copy numbers of ARGs. Finally, RO showed high rejection percentages for all PhACs (<90%), with concentrations in the low ng L−1 range in permeates, for most target PhACs. Nevertheless, moderate copy numbers of ARGs were detected in permeates.