Targeted removal of ARGs and facultative pathogenic bacteria (FPB) in wastewater from AMR hotspots using modular advanced treatment solutions





Research Project: 2022-01-04 - 2025-03-31
Total sum awarded: €1 500 000

Our goal is to design, implement and assess modular advanced solutions for effective and decentralized wastewater treatment at selected point sources of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) emergence. The applied technologies are primarily targeting AMR pollution and pathogens in wastewater streams directly at AMR hotspots. Hence, we move away from ‘end-of-pipe’ approaches applied at wastewater treatment plants and address intervention in all three pillars of One-Health. The principles of the used technical solutions are based on an undescribed blue light-based disinfection, a combined ozonation/advanced oxidation process (O3/AOP), UV-C irradiation and membrane filtration. For the first time, we will use blue light in an advanced flow reactor system to destroy antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and facultative pathogenic bacteria (FPB) in wastewater. We will also demonstrate the superiority of the novel pilot-scale treatment systems as opposed to state-of-the art solutions by collecting and treating effluents from AMR hotspots, including a hospital, nursing homes, and a slaughterhouse. Our approach intends to reduce the risk associated with ARB/ARG/FPB spreading from hotspots to the downstream natural environment, and to unburden central WWTPs. A cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to demonstrate the potential benefits e.g. avoidance of health risks, and costs adopting the new approaches. The modalities for transferring the technology from HICs to LMICs by conducting a willingness to pay study for uptake of decentralized treatment of AMR in LMICs will also be assessed.

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  • Thomas Schwartz, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany (Coordinator)
  • Carsten Schwermer, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway (Partner)
  • Jaqphet Opintan, University of Ghana, Ghana (Partner)
  • Richard Wulwa, University of Nairobi, Kenya (Partner)

The objective of the project HOTMATS is to design and demonstrate effective and compact solutions for the source-treatment of wastewater emitted from AMR hotspots. The goal is to stop the spreading of antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB), antibiotic resistance genes (ARG), and other health-critical microorganisms from hotspots to the public sewage network, which currently is one of the major AMR transmission links between the three pillars of One-Health. This intervention will unburden the sewage network including wastewater treatment plants from the load of AMR, and hence reduces their release to the environment. The capability of five different treatment principles, including, ozonation (O3), advanced oxidation (AOP), UV-C irradiation, membrane filtration (MF), and antimicrobial Blue light (aBL) will be investigated. A novel treatment unit based on aBL will be designed, and the destruction of ARB/ARGs in contaminated wastewater will be demonstrated. O3, AOP, MF, and UV-C based pilot-reactors will be developed and their effectiveness to destroy ARB/ARGs in concentrated wastewater streams will be assessed at a hospital, nursery homes, and animal facilities. Compared to existing methods, the investigated treatment solutions are more effective, have a lower footprint, and consume less energy and resources, making them attractive options for treatment at AMR hotspots, as retrofits at old building infrastructures, and where space is limited. The socio-economy assessment including the transfer from HIC to LMIC is part of the HOTMATS project by integration partners from LMICs.