Simultaneous removal of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes, and micropollutants by a modified photo-Fenton process

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Original languageEnglish
Article number117075
Journal / PublicationWater Research
Online published20 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


Although photo-driven advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) have been developed to treat wastewater, few studies have investigated the feasibility of AOPs to simultaneously remove antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB), antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and micropollutants (MPs). This study employed a modified photo-Fenton process using ethylenediamine-N,N′-disuccinic acid (EDDS) to chelate iron(III), thus maintaining the reaction pH in a neutral range. Simultaneous removal of ARB and associated extracellular (e-ARGs) and intracellular ARGs (i-ARGs), was assessed by bacterial cell culture, qPCR and atomic force microscopy. The removal of five MPs was also evaluated by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. A low dose comprising 0.1 mM Fe(III), 0.2 mM EDDS, and 0.3 mM hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was found to be effective for decreasing ARB by 6-log within 30 min, and e-ARGs by 6-log within 10 min. No ARB regrowth occurred after 48-h, suggesting that the proposed process is an effective disinfectant against ARB. Moreover, five recalcitrant MPs (carbamazepine, diclofenac, sulfamethoxazole, mecoprop and benzotriazole at an initial concentration of 10 μg/L each) were >99% removed after 30 min treatment in ultrapure water. The modified photo-Fenton process was also validated using synthetic wastewater and real secondary wastewater effluent as matrices, and results suggest the dosage should be doubled to ensure equivalent removal performance. Collectively, this study demonstrated that the modified process is an optimistic ‘one-stop’ solution to simultaneously mitigate both chemical and biological hazards. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Antibiotic resistance (AR), Antibiotic resistance gene (ARG), Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Micropollutants (MPs), Modified photo-Fenton