Microplastics In Sewage Treatment Plants Can Turn 'Hubs' For Drug-Resistant Bacteria: Study

The study states that these treatment plants could become hotspots, where multiple chemicals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens combine. This further poses a risk to aquatic life and human health if they bypass the treatment process.

Update: 2021-03-31 10:18 GMT
Writer : Devyani Madaik | Editor : Rakshitha R | Creatives : Abhishek M

The accumulation of plastic litter in ecosystems is a well-known issue. Microplastics are typically the plastic particles that enter natural ecosystems from various sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.

They are less than five-millimetres in length. The fine plastic particles are not just harmful to the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, but can also become 'hubs' for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, once they are cleared out from household drains and enter sewage treatment plants, a new study has found.

According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) study, in the US, the ultra-fine plastics particles form a slimy layer (biofilm) on the surface, further allow bacteria and antibiotic waste to combine and secret glue-like substances. 

The study noted that some bacterial strains had raised antibiotic resistance by up to 30 times when living on the slimy layers that form inside these treatment plants, India Today reported. 

Impact of Microplastics In Treatment Plants 

The study's co-author, Mengyan Li, said that these treatment plants could become hotspots, where multiple chemicals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens combine. This further poses a risk to aquatic life and human health if they bypass the treatment process. 

The scientists assessed several sludge samples from domestic sewage treatment plants for the study and injected them with two commercial microplastics - polyethene and polystyrene. 

They found eight different species growing on the microplastics. "We might think of microplastics as tiny beads, but they provide an enormous surface area for microbes to reside," Li added. 

Impact on Health

Of the eight species that scientists found in microplastics, they found two emerging human pathogens linked with a respiratory infection. 

"As other bacteria attach to the surface and grow, they can even swap DNA with each other. This is how the antibiotic resistance genes are being spread among the community," Li said.

Further studies are required to understand the impact of microplastics bypassing water treatment processes. 

Also Read: 'Get Counselling By Specialist In LGBTQ Issues': Madras HC Tells Parents Of Same-Sex Couple

Tags:    

#PoweredBy YouWe bring you news and stories that are worth your attention! Stories that are relevant, reliable, contextual and unbiased. If you read us, watch us, and like what we do, then show us some love! Good journalism is expensive to produce and we have come this far only with your support. Keep encouraging independent media organisations and independent journalists. We always want to remain answerable to you and not to anyone else.

Suggest a correction

Writer - Devyani Madaik

Digital Journalist

A media enthusiast, Devyani believes in learning on the job and there is nothing off limits when it comes to work. Writing is her passion and she is always ready for a debate as well.

Editor - Rakshitha R

Digital Editor

Rakshitha an engineer turned passionate journalist with an inclination for poetry, creative writing, movies, fiction, mountains and seclusion. Not a part of the social process but existential.

Creatives - Abhishek M

Creative Producer

" An engineer by profession, Abhishek is the creative producer of the team, graphic designing is his passion and travelling his get away. In more ways than one, he makes the content visually appealing."

Similar News