Effects of wastewater treatment on antibiotics
Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals enter our wastewater system due to improper disposal and from not being fully metabolized. Antibiotics are over-prescribed in the US and lead to antibiotic resistance. They are also chemically altered in waste water treatment plants when reacted with chlorine. The increase in use of pharmaceuticals has led to the concern of causing adverse effects to environments where wastewater is stored. The purpose of our research is to study the effects of wastewater treatment on the commonly used antibiotics Azithromycin and Doxycycline. The two most common processes for wastewater disinfection is chlorination and UV-light treatment. The chlorination process is simulated by reacting the different pharmaceuticals with Sodium Hypochlorite and a UV lamp is used to simulate the UV-light treatment. The samples are analyzed with a ESI+Q-TOF MS and degradation and potential byproducts were observed. We use LCMS (Liquid Chromatograph / Mass Spectrometer) to identify what products are formed and how fast they are formed when antibiotics and chlorine are reacted. We also looked at alternatives, such as ozone and UV light that may be safer than chlorine treatment. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals are found in all communities. Our findings could guide wastewater treatment plants to use methods that treat antibiotics in ways that don’t produce halogenated or antibiotic active by-products.