Does light-based tertiary treatment prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance genes? Performance, regrowth and future direction

  • chair:

    Gmurek, M. / Borowska, E. / Schwartz, T. / Horn, H. (2022)

  • place:

    Science of The Total Environment, 2022, 817, 153001

  • Date: Januar 2022
  • Abstract

    The common occurrence of antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) originating from pathogenic and facultative pathogenic bacteria pose a high risk to aquatic environments. Low removal of ARGs in conventional wastewater treatment processes and horizontal dissemination of resistance genes between environmental bacteria and human pathogens have made antibiotic resistance evolution a complex global health issue. The phenomenon of regrowth of bacteria after disinfection raised some concerns regarding the long-lasting safety of treated waters. Despite the inactivation of living antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB), the possibility of transferring intact and liberated DNA containing ARGs remains. A step in this direction would be to apply new types of disinfection methods addressing this issue in detail, such as light-based advanced oxidation, that potentially enhance the effect of direct light interaction with DNA. This study is devoted to comprehensively and critically review the current state-of-art for light-driven disinfection. The main focus of the article is to provide an insight into the different photochemical disinfection methods currently being studied worldwide with respect to ARGs removal as an alternative to conventional methods. The systematic comparison of UV/chlorination, UV/H2O2, sulfate radical based-AOPs, photocatalytic processes and photoFenton considering their mode of action on molecular level, operational parameters of the processes, and overall efficiency of removal of ARGs is presented. An in-depth discussion of different light-dependent inactivation pathways, influence of DBP and DOM on ARG removal and the potential bacterial regrowth after treatment is presented. Based on presented revision the risk of ARG transfer from reactivated bacteria has been evaluated, leading to a future direction for research addressing the challenges of light-based disinfection technologies.