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Disinfection of Microconstituent Antibiotic Resistance Genes by UV light and Sludge Digestion

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This study investigates the effect of UV disinfection and sludge digestion on antibiotic resistance genes (ARG). MecA and vanA ARG, associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, were exposed to UV light doses ranging from 0–95 mJ/cm2 using a collimated beam apparatus. MecA response to UV followed first order decay, approaching one order of magnitude decrease. vanA, however, showed little response to UV, likely as an artifact of the quantitative polymerase chain reaction method employed. With respect to sludge digestion, the Cambi process, which receives thermohydrolytically pretreated sludge by sequential anaerobic and aerobic digestion, was compared to thermophillic anaerobic digestion at three temperatures and conventional anaerobic digestion. It was found that the Cambi process was most effective for reduction of tetracycline ARG, tet(O) and tet(W), but not of sulfonamide ARG, sul(II). The overall results suggest that effluent disinfection and sludge digestion may be key barriers for reducing the output of antibiotic resistance from wastewater treatment plants, but the processes would benefit from further improvement.
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Keywords: Antibiotic resistance genes; UV; sludge digestion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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