Municipal Solid Waste Treatment System Increases Ambient Airborne Bacteria and Antibiotic Resistance Genes

Linyun Li, Qing Wang, Wenjing Bi, Jie Hou, Yingang Xue, Daqing Mao, Ranjit Das, Yi Luo, Xiangdong Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Landfill and incineration are the primary disposal practices for municipal solid waste (MSW) and have been considered as the critical reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). However, the possible transmission of ARGs from the municipal solid waste treatment system (MSWT system) to ambient air is still unclear. In this study, we collected inside and ambient air samples (PM10 and PM2.5) and potential source samples (leachate and solid waste) in the MSWT system. The results showed that the MSWT system contributed to the increased ambient airborne bacteria and associated ARGs. Forty-one antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) harboring blaTEM-1 were isolated, and the full-length nucleotide sequences of the blaTEM-1 gene (harbored by identical bacillus) from air (downwind samples) were 100% identical with those in the leachate and solid waste, indicating that the MSWT system was the important source of disperse bacteria and associated ARGs in the ambient air. The daily intake (DI) burden level of ARGs via PM inhalation was comparable with that via ingestion of drinking water but lower than the DI level via ingestion of raw vegetables. The antibiotic-resistant opportunistic pathogen Bacillus cereus was isolated from air, with a relatively high DI level of Bacillus via inhalation (104-106 copies/day) in the MSWT system. This study highlights the key pathway of airborne ARGs to human exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3900-3908
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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