Effect of powdered activated carbon as advanced step in wastewater treatments on antibiotic resistant microorganisms

Ravasi, Damiana and König, Roger and Principi, Pamela and Perale, Giuseppe and Demarta Aeschbacher, Antonella (2019) Effect of powdered activated carbon as advanced step in wastewater treatments on antibiotic resistant microorganisms. UNSPECIFIED. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 20. pp. 63-75.

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Background: Conventional wastewater treatment plants discharge significant amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes into natural water bodies contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance. Some advanced wastewater treatment technologies have been shown to effectively decrease the number of bacteria. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of knowledge about the effectiveness of these treatments on antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistant genes. To the best of our knowledge, no specific studies have considered how powdered activated carbon (PAC) treatments can act on antibiotic resistant bacteria, although it is essential to assess the impact of this wastewater treatment on the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Method: To address this gap, we evaluated the fate and the distribution of fluorescent-tagged antibiotic/antimycotic resistant microorganisms in a laboratory-scale model simulating a process configuration involving powdered activated carbon as advanced wastewater treatment. Furthermore, we studied the possible increase of naturally existing antibiotic resistant bacteria during the treatment implementing PAC recycling. Results: The analysis of fluorescent-tagged microorganisms demonstrated the efficacy of the PAC adsorption treatment in reducing the load of both susceptible and resistant fluorescent microorganisms in the treated water, reaching a removal efficiency of 99.70%. Moreover, PAC recycling did not increase the resistance characteristics of cultivable bacteria neither in the sludge nor in the treated effluent. Conclusion: Results suggest that wastewater PAC treatment is a promising technology not only for the removal of micropollutants but also for its effect in decreasing antibiotic resistant bacteria release.

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