Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 15, pp 15689–15702 | Cite as

Environmental and human health risks of antimicrobials used in Fenneropenaeus chinensis aquaculture production in China

  • Ming Sun
  • Zhiqiang Chang
  • Paul J. Van den Brink
  • Jian Li
  • Fazhen Zhao
  • Andreu Rico
Research Article


This study aimed to quantify the environmental fate of antimicrobials applied in Fenneropenaeus chinensis aquaculture production in China and to assess their potential risks for surrounding aquatic ecosystems, for the promotion of antimicrobial resistance in target and non-target bacteria and for consumers eating shrimp products that contain antimicrobial residues. For this, we first used the results of an environmental monitoring study performed with the antimicrobial sulfamethazine to parameterize and calibrate the ERA-AQUA model, a mass balance model suited to perform risk assessments of veterinary medicines applied in aquaculture ponds. Next, a scenario representing F. chinensis production in China was built and used to perform risk assessments for 21 antimicrobials which are regulated for aquaculture in China. Results of the model calibration showed a good correspondence between the predicted and the measured sulfamethazine concentrations, with differences within an order of magnitude. Results of the ecological risk assessment showed that four antimicrobials (levofloxacin, sarafloxacin, ampicillin, sulfadiazine) are expected to have adverse effects on primary producers, while no short-term risks were predicted for invertebrates and fish exposed to farm wastewater effluents containing antimicrobial residues. Half of the evaluated antimicrobials showed potential to contribute to antimicrobial resistance in bacteria exposed to pond water and farm effluents. A withdrawal period of three weeks is recommended for antimicrobials applied via oral administration to F. chinensis in order to comply with the current national and international toxicological food safety standards. The results of this study indicate the need to improve the current regulatory framework for the registration of aquaculture antimicrobials in China and suggest compounds that should be targeted in future aquaculture risk assessments and environmental monitoring studies.


Aquaculture Human health Ecological risk assessment Shrimps Environmental modelling Antimicrobial resistance 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Chinese Scholarship Council, Modern Agro-industry Technology Research System (No. CARS-47), Independent Innovation Foundation of Shandong Province (No. 2013CXC80202), and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (No. 201103034). The scenario and drug-related parameter input files used to run the ERA-AQUA model are available upon request.

Supplementary material

11356_2016_6733_MOESM1_ESM.docx (102 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 101 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhiqiang Chang
    • 2
  • Paul J. Van den Brink
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jian Li
    • 2
    • 5
  • Fazhen Zhao
    • 2
    • 5
  • Andreu Rico
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Fishery CollegeOcean University of ChinaQingdaoPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Sustainable Development of Marine Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research InstituteChinese Academy of Fishery SciencesQingdaoPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.AlterraWageningen University and Research centreWageningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality ManagementWageningen University, Wageningen University and Research centreWageningenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Function Laboratory for Marine Fisheries Science and Food Production ProcessesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyJimoPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.IMDEA Water InstituteScience and Technology Campus of the University of AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain

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