Removal of antibiotics from wastewaters by membrane technology: Limitations, successes, and future improvements

Sci Total Environ. 2022 Sep 10;838(Pt 1):156010. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156010. Epub 2022 May 17.


Antibiotics and related pharmaceuticals are applied to enhance public health and life quality. A major environmental concern is wastewaters from pharmaceutical industries, which contain significant amounts of antibiotics. Pharmaceutical industries apply conventional processes (biological, filtration, coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation) for wastewater treatment, but these approaches cannot remove antibiotics completely. Moreover, unmetabolized antibiotics released by humans and animals are dangerous for municipal and effluent wastewater. Besides, antibiotic resistance is another challenge in treatment of wastewater for superbugs. This comprehensive study summarizes different techniques for antibiotic removal with an emphasis on membrane technology in individual and hybrid systems such as chemical, physical, biological, and conditional-based strategies. A combination of membrane processes with advanced oxidation processes (AOPs), adsorption, and biological treatments can be the right solution for perfect removal. Furthermore, this review briefly compares different procedures for antibiotic removal, which can be helpful for further studies with their advantages and drawbacks.

Keywords: AOPs; Antibiotic removal; Enzymatic membrane; Hybrid systems; MBR; Pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods
  • Wastewater
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical*
  • Water Purification* / methods


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical