In recent years occurrence of antibiotics in aquatic systems has attracted significant attention, particularly in rivers which receive sewage treatment effluent where they have been found to bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms, albeit in trace amounts. Antibiotics enter wastewater streams, mainly through their usage/excretion and inappropriate disposal and undergo degradation during wastewater treatment.
Existing data on pharmaceuticals/antibiotics removal/degradation in wastewater treatment is limited and show highly variable removal efficiencies, possibly due to the difference in technologies and operating conditions used in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Clearly, there is lack of understanding the link between antibiotics usage and their environmental impact in receiving waters following sewage effluent discharges. This is important to understand, particularly the extent to which antibiotics are degraded/removed during wastewater treatment. Understanding the link between antibiotics usage and the extent of their degradation in WWTPs is essential to develop more effective wastewater treatment strategies/technologies to mitigate their environmental impact in receiving waters.
This project seeks to investigate antibiotics usage, their removal in wastewater treatment and environmental impact by determining their concentrations in sewage influents, effluents receiving waters, with an aim of modelling the entire process (usage, degradation/removal and environmental impact). Findings from this research are likely to be useful in designing effective wastewater treatment strategies/technologies to mitigate antibiotics’ environmental impact in receiving waters. The work will target 3-4 contrasting capacity WWTPs and will consider seasonality (e.g., greater use of antibiotics and high river flows in winters).
The project requires a strong background in organic chemistry and organic chemical analysis.