Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 6826–6835 | Cite as

Occurrence and removal of antibiotics and the corresponding resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants: effluents’ influence to downstream water environment

  • Jianan Li
  • Weixiao Cheng
  • Like Xu
  • Yanan Jiao
  • Shams Ali Baig
  • Hong ChenEmail author
Research Article


In this study, the occurrence of 8 antibiotics [3 tetracyclines (TCs), 4 sulfonamides, and 1 trimethoprim (TMP)], 12 antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) (10 tet, 2 sul), 4 types of bacteria [no antibiotics, anti-TC, anti-sulfamethoxazole (SMX), and anti-double], and intI1 in two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were assessed and their influences in downstream lake were investigated. Both WWTPs’ effluent demonstrated some similarities, but the abundance and removal rate varied significantly. Results revealed that biological treatment mainly removed antibiotics and ARGs, whereas physical techniques were found to eliminate antibiotic resistance bacteria (ARBs) abundance (about 1 log for each one). UV disinfection did not significantly enhance the removal efficiency, and the release of the abundantly available target contaminants from the excess sludge may pose threats to human and the environment. Different antibiotics showed diverse influences on the downstream lake, and the concentrations of sulfamethazine (SM2) and SMX were observed to increase enormously. The total ARG abundance ascended about 0.1 log and some ARGs (e.g., tetC, intI1, tetA) increased due to the high input of the effluent. In addition, the abundance of ARB variation in the lake also changed, but the abundance of four types of bacteria remained stable in the downstream sampling sites.


Antibiotics Antibiotic resistance Occurrence Wastewater treatment plant Removal 



The authors would to extends their sincerely thanks to the managers of wastewater treatment plants for providing the water samples and related information. This work was supported by the Major Science and Technology Program for Water Pollution Control and Treatment (2014ZX07101-012) and Natural Science Foundation of China (21277117).

Supplementary material

11356_2015_5916_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1335 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianan Li
    • 1
  • Weixiao Cheng
    • 1
  • Like Xu
    • 1
  • Yanan Jiao
    • 1
  • Shams Ali Baig
    • 2
  • Hong Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesCOMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT)AbbottabadPakistan

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