Occurrence of antibiotics residues in hospital wastewater, wastewater treatment plant, and in surface water in Nairobi County, Kenya

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The occurrence of 17 antibiotics belonging to sulfonamides, β-lactams, macrolides and aminoglycosides classes, and trimethoprim in raw hospital wastewater, wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), and surface water was determined. Residual antibiotics were quantified by LC/MS/MS. Residues of antibiotics in hospital wastewater were 3–10 times higher than that detected in WWTP and surface water. Trimethoprim, spectinomycin, ampicillin, and oxacillin were detected in all the sampled water. Sulfamethoxazole was detected at the highest concentration of 20.6, 7.8, and 6.8 μg L−1 in hospital wastewater, WWTP and in surface water, respectively. Other detected sulfonamides were sulfamethazine, sulfadiazine, and sulfanilamide at a concentration range of 0.4–15.7 μg L−1. Detected trimethoprim ranged from 0.4–6.6 μg L−1, the rest of the detected antibiotics were up to 1.0 μg L−1. The speciation of the sulfonamides at pH values relevant to sampled water was evaluated by use of pKa values. These compounds existed largely as anionic and neutral species indicating high mobility as these speciation forms are less sorbed in environmental matrices. Continuous monitoring of antibiotics residues in wastewater, surface water, and other environmental matrices is very important due to their adverse health and environmental effects. The information is useful in designing strategies for antibiotics pollution control and also in policy formulation.

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We thank Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) for supporting us with the LC/MS/MS facility for analysis of antibiotics residues and Mr. Geoffrey Maina of Egerton University, Kenya for preparing the map of the sampling sites.

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Correspondence to Anastasiah N. Ngigi.

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Ngigi, A.N., Magu, M.M. & Muendo, B.M. Occurrence of antibiotics residues in hospital wastewater, wastewater treatment plant, and in surface water in Nairobi County, Kenya. Environ Monit Assess 192, 18 (2020).

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  • Antibiotics
  • Residues
  • Wastewater
  • Surface water
  • Speciation