Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Rachel Gomes Intervention @ LeSpar AMR Workshop - The Nottingham Edition

On the following up of the Learned Society Partnership (LeSpar) Antimicrobial Resistance workshop see here) last week. Today I bring you incredible interesting research presented by Rachel Gomes (Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham) that took place on the 7th of July at MediCity this year.

Rachel covered "Antimicrobial resistance in the outside environment: Challenges and Opportunities". Her presentation was the one I liked the most at the LeSpar workshop - Nottingham Edition. Interesting, focused, realistic, and most of all almost linking the urban with the industrial settings. Let's read through the elements Rachel Gomes presented us with:
  • Everything started back in the 30s with humans and animals being exposed to antimicrobials present in the environment. A particular farm was processing faeces. Immediately an intriguing question emerges from this scenario, "What is the influence of waste management practices on AMR?
  • By defining the outside environment we find particulates (matter in the form of minute separate particles). Landfill is where we have the inappropriate disposal of antibiotics that accumulate in these particles.These accumulated antibiotics will be leached (transported to municipal wastewater treatment plants)!
  • In Australia there are different classes for direct water reuse, e.g., Class A is for water that can be reused in car washing. However, worldwide, rapid urbanisation and water shortages has led to utilising reclaimed water irrigation, thus our motivations for considering AMR in the outside environment have grown in number and importance.
  • In England  and Wales there are 23 water companies.These protect the quality of water and treat effluents released to the received water environment. Their individual systems are not designed to deal with AMR substances. We are talking of substances that have already been linked to acting as endocrine disruptors.
  • Observations of wastewater effluent adversely affecting fish has now lead to more than £200M of investment by water companies. Although, the future demands for "new" analytics to track the metabolism and fate of these chemicals present in the wastewater treatment process of aquatic environment.
  • Bacterial bordellos, has mentioned in (Edge, 2010); an article that explores the mix of bacteria in activated sludge processes and the fate of antibiotic resistance genes in sewage treatment plants (unfortunately, I personally wasn't able to find his article).
  • After the privatisation of the water treatment industry a lot of questions have emerged: Which unit processes do actually form the treatment program? What are the effects of the treatments in terms of UV exposure and chlorination on the horizontal transfer to AMR? What level of detail is considered appropriate to understand AMR in the outside environment? Considering AMR as an emerging pollutant what sites should we monitor? What implications does AMR have on managing wastewater/wastes? How can we better understand complexity?
This was Rachel Gomes' oral participation with a very interesting presentation that took me back to those years as a Biotechnological Engineering student, back in Portugal. I managed to ask Rachel if she thought that we could use a barcode footprint system to make the end-user more responsible for correct handling and disposal of the antibiotics. Rachel replied among other things that "...it becomes educational. Cannot force people to do it... companies are talking about recycled antibiotics".

See you next time where I will share with you guys University of Birmingham's Jan Kreft's contribution. A very interesting view on antimicrobial resistance and gut microbiota. Until then, keep reading The Toxicologist Today. Cheers!

1st image kindly taken from UNESCO-IHE,  Ecological sanitation, [http://ocw.unesco-ihe.org/mod/page/view.php?id=616], last visited on the 13th of July 2015, last update on the 8th of May 2010.

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