Sewage Treatment Plants May Contribute to Antibiotic Resistance Problem

Water discharged into lakes and rivers from municipal sewage treatment plants may contain significant concentrations of the genes that make bacteria antibiotic-resistant. That's the conclusion of a new study on a sewage treatment plant on Lake Superior in the Duluth, Minn., harbor that appears in American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Timothy M. LaPara and colleagues explain that antibiotic-resistant bacteria — a major problem in medicine today — are abundant in the sewage that enters municipal wastewater treatment plants. Treatment is intended to kill the bacteria, and it removes many of the bacterial genes that cause antibiotic resistance. However, genes or bacteria may be released in effluent from the plant. In an effort to determine the importance of municipal sewage treatment plants as sources of antibiotic resistance genes, the scientists studied releases of those genes at the Duluth facility.
 
Although the Duluth facility uses some of the most advanced technology for cleaning wastewater — so-called tertiary treatment — the study identified it as an important source of antibiotic resistance genes. Sampling of water at 13 locations detected three genes, for instance, that make bacteria resistant to the tetracycline group of antibiotics, which are used to treat conditions ranging from acne to sexually transmitted diseases to anthrax and bubonic plague. LaPara's team says their research demonstrates that even the most high-tech sewage treatment plants may be significant sources of antibiotic resistance genes in waterways.

Acces the entire study here: Tertiary-Treated Municipal Wastewater is a Significant Point Source of Antibiotic Resistance Genes into Duluth-Superior Harbor, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (22), pp 9543–9549. DOI: 10.1021/es202775r

SOURCE: American Chemical Society

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar