Occurrence of Antibiotics in Influent and Effluent from 3 Major Wastewater‐Treatment Plants in Finland

Ewelina Kortesmäki, Johnny R Östman, Axel Meierjohann, Jenny-Maria Brozinski, Patrik Christoffer Eklund, Leif Kronberg

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28 Citations (Scopus)
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Wastewater‐treatment plants (WWTPs) are regarded as one of the main sources of antibiotics in the environment. In the present study, the concentrations of multiple antibiotics and their metabolites belonging to 5 antibiotic classes were determined in 3 major Finnish WWTPs. An online solid phase extraction–liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method was used for the extraction and analysis of the compounds. The method was fully validated using real and synthetic wastewaters. Seven antibiotics and 3 metabolites were found in the analyzed samples. Sulfonamides were removed most efficiently, whereas macrolides usually showed negative removal efficiency during the treatment, which means that the concentrations for individual antibiotics determined in the effluent samples were higher than in the influent samples. Sulfadiazine was found at concentrations up to 1018 ng/L, which was the highest concentration of any of the detected antibiotics in influent. In the effluent samples, the highest mean concentration was found for trimethoprim (532 ng/L). The measured mass loads of the antibiotics and metabolites to the receiving waters ranged from 2 to 157 mg/d per 1000 population equivalent. The evaluated environmental risk assessment showed that clarithromycin and erythromycin might pose a risk to the environment. The present study further underlines the importance of implementing technology for efficient removal of xenobiotics during wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1774–1789
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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