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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 668; doi:10.3390/ijerph14060668

Antibiotic Concentrations Decrease during Wastewater Treatment but Persist at Low Levels in Reclaimed Water

1
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, 4200 Valley Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA
2
University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, A.V. Williams Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Biosystems and Biomaterials Division, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA
4
School of Public Health-Bloomington, Indiana University Bloomington, 1025 E. 7th St., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 May 2017 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 14 June 2017 / Published: 21 June 2017
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Abstract

Reclaimed water has emerged as a potential irrigation solution to freshwater shortages. However, limited data exist on the persistence of antibiotics in reclaimed water used for irrigation. Therefore, we examined the fate of nine commonly-used antibiotics (ampicillin, azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, linezolid, oxacillin, oxolinic acid, penicillin G, pipemidic acid, and tetracycline) in differentially treated wastewater and reclaimed water from two U.S. regions. We collected 72 samples from two Mid-Atlantic and two Midwest treatment plants, as well as one Mid-Atlantic spray irrigation site. Antibiotic concentrations were measured using liquid-chromatography- tandem mass spectrometry. Data were analyzed using Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon tests and Kruskal Wallis tests. Overall, antibiotic concentrations in effluent samples were lower than that of influent samples. Mid-Atlantic plants had similar influent but lower effluent antibiotic concentrations compared to Midwest plants. Azithromycin was detected at the highest concentrations (of all antibiotics) in influent and effluent samples from both regions. For most antibiotics, transport from the treatment plant to the irrigation site resulted in no changes in antibiotic concentrations, and UV treatment at the irrigation site had no effect on antibiotic concentrations in reclaimed water. Our findings show that low-level antibiotic concentrations persist in reclaimed water used for irrigation; however, the public health implications are unclear at this time. View Full-Text
Keywords: antibiotics; reclaimed water; wastewater treatment; liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry; public health antibiotics; reclaimed water; wastewater treatment; liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry; public health
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kulkarni, P.; Olson, N.D.; Raspanti, G.A.; Rosenberg Goldstein, R.E.; Gibbs, S.G.; Sapkota, A.; Sapkota, A.R. Antibiotic Concentrations Decrease during Wastewater Treatment but Persist at Low Levels in Reclaimed Water. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 668.

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