Ormsby MJ, White HL, Metcalf R, Oliver DM, Feasey NA & Quilliam RS (2024) Enduring pathogenicity of African strains of Salmonella on plastics and glass in simulated peri-urban environmental waste piles. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 461, p. 132439. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2023.132439
In low- and middle-income countries, plastic has become a major constituent of landfills and urban dump sites. Environmental plastic pollution can also provide a novel surface for the formation of microbial biofilm, which often includes pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Here, under conditions simulating a peri-urban waste pile typical of an African informal settlement, we aimed to determine if pathogenic Salmonella spp. can retain their virulence following a prolonged period of desiccation on the surfaces of environmental plastic and glass. We show that clinically (and environmentally) relevant strains of Salmonella including S. Enteritidis, S. Typhimurium and S. Typhi can persist on plastic and glass for at least 28-days and that temperature (which increases with the depth of an urban waste pile) is a key determinant of this survival. All three strains of Salmonella retained their pathogenicity (determined by using a Galleria mellonella model of infection) following their recovery from the plastisphere indicating that plastics in the environment can act as reservoirs for human pathogens and could facilitate their persistence for extended periods of time. Pathogens colonising environmental plastic waste therefore pose a heightened public health risk, particularly in areas where people are frequently exposed to plastic pollution.
Biofilm; Environmental pollution; Plastic pollution; Public health; Waste management
Journal of Hazardous Materials: Volume 461
|Publication date online
|Date accepted by journal