Environmental and Public Health Implications of Water Reuse: Antibiotics, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, and Antibiotic Resistance Genes
KAUST DepartmentEnvironmental Science and Engineering Program
Water Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC)
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AbstractWater scarcity is a global problem, and is particularly acute in certain regions like Africa, the Middle East, as well as the western states of America. A breakdown on water usage revealed that 70% of freshwater supplies are used for agricultural irrigation. The use of reclaimed water as an alternative water source for agricultural irrigation would greatly alleviate the demand on freshwater sources. This paradigm shift is gaining momentum in several water scarce countries like Saudi Arabia. However, microbial problems associated with reclaimed water may hinder the use of reclaimed water for agricultural irrigation. Of particular concern is that the occurrence of antibiotic residues in the reclaimed water can select for antibiotic resistance genes among the microbial community. Antibiotic resistance genes can be associated with mobile genetic elements, which in turn allow a promiscuous transfer of resistance traits from one bacterium to another. Together with the pathogens that are present in the reclaimed water, antibiotic resistant bacteria can potentially exchange mobile genetic elements to create the “perfect microbial storm”. Given the significance of this issue, a deeper understanding of the occurrence of antibiotics in reclaimed water, and their potential influence on the selection of resistant microorganisms would be essential. In this review paper, we collated literature over the past two decades to determine the occurrence of antibiotics in municipal wastewater and livestock manure. We then discuss how these antibiotic resistant bacteria may impose a potential microbial risk to the environment and public health, and the knowledge gaps that would have to be addressed in future studies. Overall, the collation of the literature in wastewater treatment and agriculture serves to frame and identify potential concerns with respect to antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes in reclaimed water.
CitationEnvironmental and Public Health Implications of Water Reuse: Antibiotics, Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, and Antibiotic Resistance Genes 2013, 2 (3):367 Antibiotics
- The potential implications of reclaimed wastewater reuse for irrigation on the agricultural environment: The knowns and unknowns of the fate of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria and resistance genes - A review.
- Authors: Christou A, Agüera A, Bayona JM, Cytryn E, Fotopoulos V, Lambropoulou D, Manaia CM, Michael C, Revitt M, Schröder P, Fatta-Kassinos D
- Issue date: 2017 Oct 15
- Occurrence of vancomycin-resistant and -susceptible Enterococcus spp. in reclaimed water used for spray irrigation.
- Authors: Carey SA, Goldstein RE, Gibbs SG, Claye E, He X, Sapkota AR
- Issue date: 2016 May
- Removal of bacterial contaminants and antibiotic resistance genes by conventional wastewater treatment processes in Saudi Arabia: Is the treated wastewater safe to reuse for agricultural irrigation?
- Authors: Al-Jassim N, Ansari MI, Harb M, Hong PY
- Issue date: 2015 Apr 15
- Impacts of reclaimed water irrigation on soil antibiotic resistome in urban parks of Victoria, Australia.
- Authors: Han XM, Hu HW, Shi XZ, Wang JT, Han LL, Chen D, He JZ
- Issue date: 2016 Apr
- Viability of increasing the tariff of freshwater for irrigation as a tool to stimulate wastewater reuse in the MENA region.
- Authors: Abu-Madi M, Al-Sa'ed R, Braadbaart O, Alaerts G
- Issue date: 2008
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