Antiseptic chlorhexidine in activated sludge: Biosorption, antimicrobial susceptibility, and alteration of community structure

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Environmental Management, 2019, 237 pp. 629 - 635
Issue Date:
2019-05-01
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Chlorhexidine (CHX) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, which may pose environmental health risks. This study examined the removal potential and the mechanisms regulating the fate of CHX in activated sludge (AS). Bioreactors inoculated with AS removed 74 ± 8% and 81 ± 6% of CHX at steady state while receiving 0.5 and 1 mg/L CHX, respectively. Analysis of the removal pathways showed that biosorption, rather than biological breakdown or other abiotic losses, largely (>70%) regulated the removal of CHX. 16S rRNA gene-based analysis revealed that CHX selected for Luteolibacter (4.3–10.1-fold change) and Runella (6.2–14.1-fold change) with potential multi-drug resistance mechanisms (e.g., efflux pumps). In contrast, it significantly reduced core members (Comamonadaceae and Flavobacteriaceae) of AS, playing a key role in contaminant removal and floc formation directly associated with the performance of WWTPs (e.g., wastewater effluent quality). Antimicrobial susceptibility testing showed that 0.4–1.3 mg/L of CHX can be sublethal to AS. Our work provided new insights into the fate of CHX in urban waste streams and the potential toxicity and effects on the structure and function of AS, which has practical implications for the management of biological WWTPs treating CHX.
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