Inactivation of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Wastewater by Ozone-Based Advanced Water Treatment Processes

Antibiotics (Basel). 2022 Feb 7;11(2):210. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics11020210.


The inactivating effect of ozone (O3)-based advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) (O3/H2O2, O3/UV, and O3/UV/H2O2 systems) on antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (AMRB) and antimicrobial-susceptible bacteria (AMSB) in sewage treatment plant (STP) wastewater was investigated. The AMRB were grouped into six classes: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-E), multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter (MDRA), multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MDRP), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE); these classes constituted the World Health Organization (WHO) global priority list of AMRB. The results indicate that O3-based advanced wastewater treatment inactivated all AMRB and AMSB (>99.9%) after 10 min of treatment, and significant differences (p < 0.5) were not observed in the disinfection of AMRB and AMSB by each treatment. Altered taxonomic diversity of micro-organisms based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing via O3/UV and O3/UV/H2O2 treatment showed that advanced wastewater treatments not only inactivated AMRB but also removed antimicrobial resistance genes (AMRGs) in the wastewater. Consequently, this study recommends the use of advanced wastewater treatments for treating the STP effluent, reducing environmental pollution, and alleviating the potential hazard to human health caused by AMRB, AMSB, and infectious diseases. Overall, this study provides a new method for assessing environmental risks associated with the spread of AMRB and AMSB in aquatic environments, while keeping the water environment safe and maintaining human health.

Keywords: advanced oxidation process (AOPs); antimicrobial resistance (AMR); inactivation; ozonation; river environment; sewage treatment plant (STP).