Mitigating antibiotic resistance with efficient wastewater treatment

They say the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Mildly funny, we agree, but wildly inaccurate. There are many other things in life that are (pun intended) dead certain. For example, if Queen’s We Will Rock You starts to play at the pub, it is a certainty that people will pound their fists on the table in sync with the boom-boom-clap. Or when you’re halted at a traffic signal, it is absolutely certain that three different cars will honk at you before the light even turns green. Even if there are only two cars behind you at the signal. It is also a given that every year on Women’s Day, at least one man you know will stand up and ask when do we get Men’s Day. The only thing certain about the list of certain things in life is that it is an obscenely long list. And with the continued impact of human existence and civilisation on the planet, a lot of these certainties aren’t especially nice.

One of the biggest certainties in life is disease. When 7 billion souls are packed densely together into a planet that has been plundered to near-destruction by consumerism and materialism and blatant disregard for nature, disease isn’t too far away anywhere in the world. Ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and its antibiotic properties though, most people in the modern world seem to believe they’re disease-resistant. Or that if they do get a disease, all it will take to get fully fit again is to pop a few pills before they can go wolfing down that carb-loaded burger for breakfast. But Alexander Fleming also discovered that when too little penicillin is used, bacteria also develop antibiotic resistance. Before that, even Almroth Wright had foreseen antibiotic resistance becoming possible. And today, antibiotic resistance is one of the major healthcare concerns around the world. Lots of illnesses that were formerly curable are developing new strains, resistant to even the strongest of antibiotics. TB, typhoid, pneumonia, gonorrhoea are among some of the diseases enjoying a return to deadly status due to new drug-resistant strains they’ve developed.

One reason these diseases are developing drug-resistant strains is obviously because of negligent treatment – not enough drugs or too little drugs used in treatment can both cause this. The discovery of antibiotics revolutionised healthcare, making previously incurable illnesses treatable. But overuse of antibiotics has ensured that antibiotics are now omnipresent in land and water. Presence of antibiotic residues in ground water and surface water and soil and in all manners of wastewater is a big factor in the development of drug-resistant disease strains. Sewage is rife with antibiotic residues. Hospital wastewaters are expectedly awash with antibiotic residues. Agricultural wastewater too is rich in antibiotic residues. These come both from the antibiotics used in livestock farming and also the antibiotics used in plant care.

This not only helps diseases develop resistance towards them, the presence of antibiotics also affects natural ecosystems. Antibiotic residues are often bioactive, affecting bacteria they’re not supposed to be treating, including the beneficial bacteria in soil and water. Because these residues are present in surface water and ground water, they end up being consumed by humans, leading to further disease. Apart from the harm antibiotic residues cause to the ecosystem, increasing antibiotic resistance in microbial lifeforms is increasingly becoming a global healthcare challenge. In India alone in 2015, 58,000 neonatal deaths were ascribed to antibiotic resistance. In the EU, 25,000 people die every year due to infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

And while there are global evangelisation programs aiming at reducing dependence on antibiotics for treatment, that won’t solve the problem on its own. We need to also bioremediate all wastewater to nullify (or reduce) antibiotic residues. While there are processes like sorption, hydrolysis, photolysis and oxidation that can help remove contaminants from wastewater, microbial treatment remains the most effective and eco-friendly manner to achieve this.

Microbial wastewater treatment solutions can target a wide range of industries and can also treat municipal waste and sewage equally efficient. Organic waste can be fully degraded using microbial solutions without introducing further contaminants in the form of chemicals into wastewater. Apart from treating contamination, microbial solutions also reduce sludge volume and curb foul odours in wastewater while lowering COD and BOD levels.

At antibiotic manufacturing plants especially, there are several unique challenges that are best resolved with microbial wastewater treatment solutions. Some of these challenges are:

  • Increased load of refractory organics and hydraulic level
  • Bio-reduction of refractory organics under low hydraulic retention time (HRT)
  • Survival of biomass under high osmotic pressure (TDS load)

Our revolutionary solution, Cleanmaxx, is the ideal one-stop solution for all these issues. Cleanmaxx is a specialised heterogenous concentrated consortium of uniquely functional bacteria with a high proliferative capacity and tenacity to withstand hostile effluent waters. Cleanmaxx is capable of rapid biomass development and can withstand fluctuations in wastewater quality. At various client locations, we have observed multiple improvements in the performance of the biological system after treatment with Cleanmaxx. Use of Cleanmaxx helps in rapid development of MLSS. COD reduction is more efficient. Desired MLSS is maintained even under high TDS load. The biological system is more stable too. The bacterial consortium in Cleanmaxx can sense, adapt & effectively treat aerobically treated wastewaters of any industry origin.

Fill the form below to know more about Cleanmaxx and how we can help you reduce antibiotic contamination in wastewater at your plant.