UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Review on the Fate of Legacy and Alternative Antimicrobials and Their Metabolites during Wastewater and Sludge Treatment Abbott, Timothy; Kor-Bicakci, Gokce; Islam, Mohammad S.; Eskicioglu, Cigdem


Antimicrobial compounds are used in a broad range of personal care, consumer and healthcare products and are frequently encountered in modern life. The use of these compounds is being reexamined as their safety, effectiveness and necessity are increasingly being questioned by regulators and consumers alike. Wastewater often contains significant amounts of these chemicals, much of which ends up being released into the environment as existing wastewater and sludge treatment processes are simply not designed to treat many of these contaminants. Furthermore, many biotic and abiotic processes during wastewater treatment can generate significant quantities of potentially toxic and persistent antimicrobial metabolites and byproducts, many of which may be even more concerning than their parent antimicrobials. This review article explores the occurrence and fate of two of the most common legacy antimicrobials, triclosan and triclocarban, their metabolites/byproducts during wastewater and sludge treatment and their potential impacts on the environment. This article also explores the fate and transformation of emerging alternative antimicrobials and addresses some of the growing concerns regarding these compounds. This is becoming increasingly important as consumers and regulators alike shift away from legacy antimicrobials to alternative chemicals which may have similar environmental and human health concerns.

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