Removal of tetracycline and ciprofloxacin from wastewater by vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty) as a function of nutrient concentrations

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Department of Biological Sciences


Antibiotics have been widely used not only for the treatment and prevention of human infectious diseases but also to promote growth and prevent infections in farm animals. These antibiotics enter the environment via wastewater treatment plants, most of which cannot remove them. In addition to antibiotics, nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) also create major environmental pollution problems in surface water. Previously, we reported that vetiver grass [Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty] successfully removed antibiotics from secondary wastewater effluent. In this study, our objective was to evaluate the potential of vetiver grass to remove two antibiotics, ciprofloxacin (CIP) and tetracycline (TTC), from wastewater in the presence of high N and P. Our results show that vetiver grass significantly (p < 0.05) removed antibiotics (60–94% CIP and 89–100% TTC) and nutrients (78–89% N and 71–97% P) from the secondary wastewater effluent. The removal of antibiotics dropped with increasing nutrient concentrations. The removal efficiency was mainly affected by the presence of N rather than P in the secondary wastewater effluent. The presence of CIP induced more stress on vetiver grass compared to TTC. Vetiver also removed total organic carbon (48–73%) and chemical oxygen demand (73–82%), but their removal was also affected by the nutrient content in the secondary wastewater effluent.

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© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09762-5

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Environmental Science and Pollution Research