Occurrence and fate of typical antibiotics in wastewater treatment plants in Harbin, North-east China

  • Weihua Wang
  • Wanfeng Zhang
  • Hong LiangEmail author
  • Dawen GaoEmail author
Research Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Issue—Environmental Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance


As a new pollutant, antibiotics in the environment and their removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have gained considerable attention. However, few studies investigated antibiotics in the north-eastern areas of China. By employing high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, the concentration distribution and removal of 12 antibiotics belonging to four types (cephalosporins, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, and macrolides) were investigated in influents and effluents as well as the removal efficiencies of four typical treatment processes in 18 wastewater treatment plants of Harbin City, north-eastern China. Macrolides and fluoroquinolones presented relatively higher detection concentrations and rates both in the water and in the sludge phases. Sulfonamides and cephalosporins displayed higher detection concentrations in the water phase. The representative antibiotics in influents and effluents included ROX, NOR, OFL, SMX, AZI, and CLA, with detection rates above 95%. The detection rates of the other six antibiotics exceeded 30%. In the sludge, the other five antibiotics, except SMX, presented relatively higher detection concentrations and rates, with detection rates greater than 95%. For cephalosporin, the detection rates of CTX and CFM in the sludge were 0. The removal efficiencies for the 12 antibiotics differed greatly, with average values ranging from 30% to 80% and the highest values for cephalosporin. The removal of antibiotics did not differ significantly among the four different treatment processes.


Antibiotics WWTPs Occurrence Removal efficiency 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31870471) and Heilongjiang Natural Science Foundation (No. C2017003).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harbin Environmental Monitoring CenterHarbinChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and EnvironmentHarbin Institute of Technology (HIT)HarbinChina

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