Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Antibiotics in wastewater: Their degradation and effect on wastewater treatment efficiency


Bassim E. Abbassi *, Maab Abu Saleem, Richard G. Zytner, Bahram Gharabaghi, Ramesh Rudra

Recieved Date: 2016-06-28, Accepted Date: 2016-08-30


Pharmaceutical residues have become chemicals of emerging environmental concern in recent years. Generally, residual antibiotics are deemed to be slowly degradable compounds under normal operating conditions in wastewater treatment plants. In addition, their presence in wastewater treatment facilities might affect the treatment performance. The reuse of treated wastewater containing partially degraded antibiotic residues exacerbates the dilemma for both the water cycle and the food chain. In this work, a laboratory scale wastewater treatment plant was operated to determine the effect of the most common antibiotics, including ampicillin, amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin, on wastewater treatment performance. The investigation also determined the rate of decay of the antibiotics within the wastewater treatment process. The decay rate of the antibiotics in pure water was used to determine the hydrolysis effect. The first-order decay rates of the amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and ampicillin were 0.0147, 0.0079 and 0.0102 day-1, respectively. Ciprofloxacin had the lowest biological degradation decay rate, which can cause significant reduction in activated sludge microorganism concentration and ultimately reduce organic carbon removal efficiency. The investigation demonstrated that the mixture of antibiotics exhibits different pattern of responses than those experiments with individual antibiotics. It has been shown that amoxicillin degradation was inhibited at lower detention times. However, ampicillin degradation showed no correlation with the detention time and remained almost constant over the entire period of the experiment. As detention time increased from 0.5 to 3 days, the percentage reductions of amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and ampicillin were 75, 17 and 0 %, respectively.


Antibiotics, ampicillin, amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, pharmaceutical, wastewater treatment, decay rate, degradation

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2016
Volume: 14
Issue: 3&4
Category: Environment
Pages: 95-99

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