Evaluation of removal efficiency of human antibiotics in wastewater treatment plants in Bangkok, Thailand

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study aimed to investigate the antibiotic concentration at each stage of treatment and to evaluate the removal efficiency of antibiotics in different types of secondary and advanced treatment, as well as the effects of the location of their discharge points on the occurrence of antibiotics in surface water. Eight target antibiotics and four hospital wastewater treatment plants in Bangkok with different conventional and advanced treatment options were investigated. Antibiotics were extracted by solid phase extraction and analysed by high performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The antibiotic with the highest concentration at influent was cefazolin at 13,166 ng/L, while the antibiotic with the highest concentration at effluent was sulfamethoxazole at 1,499 ng/L. The removal efficiency of antibiotics from lowest to highest was sulfamethoxazole, piperacillin, clarithromycin, metronidazole, dicloxacillin, ciprofloxacin, cefazolin, and cefalexin. The adopted conventional treatment systems could not completely remove all antibiotics from wastewater. However, using advanced treatments or disinfection units such as chlorination and UV could increase the antibiotic removal efficiency. Chlorination was more effective than UV, ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole concentration fluctuated during the treatment process, and sulfamethoxazole was the most difficult to remove. Both these antibiotics should be studied further regarding their contamination in sludge and suitable treatment options for their removal.

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