Article

Sewage-associated plastic waste washed up on beaches can act as a reservoir for faecal bacteria, potential human pathogens, and genes for antimicrobial resistance

Details

Citation

Metcalf R, White HL, Moresco V, Ormsby MJ, Oliver DM & Quilliam RS (2022) Sewage-associated plastic waste washed up on beaches can act as a reservoir for faecal bacteria, potential human pathogens, and genes for antimicrobial resistance. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 180, Art. No.: 113766. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113766

Abstract
Sewage-associated plastic wastes, such as wet wipes and cotton bud sticks, commonly wash up on beaches; however, it is unclear whether this represents a public health risk. In this study, sewage-associated plastic waste, and naturally occurring substrates (seaweed and sand), were collected from ten beaches along the Firth of Forth estuary (Scotland, UK) and analysed using selective media for the faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) E. coli and intestinal enterococci (IE), and potential human pathogens (Vibrio spp.). Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) analysis was used to determine antibiotic resistance in selected strains. FIOs and Vibrio were more often associated with wet wipes and cotton bud sticks than with seaweed, and there was evidence of resistance to several antibiotics. This work demonstrates that plastics associated with sewage pollution can facilitate the survival and dissemination of FIOs and Vibrio and thus, could present an as yet unquantified potential risk to human health at the beach.

Keywords
Beach pollution; Environmental pathogens; Plastic pollution; Plastisphere; Sewage discharge; Wet wipes

Journal
Marine Pollution Bulletin: Volume 180

StatusPublished
FundersNERC Natural Environment Research Council
Publication date31/07/2022
Publication date online31/05/2022
Date accepted by journal15/05/2022
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/34384
Related URLshttp://hdl.handle.net/11667/196
PublisherElsevier BV
ISSN0025-326X

People (5)

People

Miss Rebecca Metcalf
Miss Rebecca Metcalf

Tutor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr David Oliver
Dr David Oliver

Associate Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr Michael Ormsby
Dr Michael Ormsby

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Richard Quilliam
Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Miss Hannah White
Miss Hannah White

Research Assistant, Biological and Environmental Sciences

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