Quantifying Historical Levels of Antibiotics in Minnesota Lake Sediment Cores

Antibiotic therapy has been one of the greatest advancements in human and veterinary medicine. The rise in popularity and widespread use of antibiotics resulted in detection in the environment which is concerning because antibiotics are designed to be persistent and effective at small doses. The objective of this work was to quantify levels of human and animal use antibiotics spanning several major antibiotic classes (sulfonamides, macrolides, tetracyclines, and fluoroquinolones) in Minnesota lake sediment cores to determine temporal trends, the major anthropogenic source, and the importance of natural production. A historical record of usage trends for 12 human and/or animal use antibiotics, 4 sulfonamides, 2 tetracyclines, 3 fluoroquinolones, 1 macrolide, trimethoprim, and lincomycin, was captured in a sedimentary record. Natural production of lincomycin may have occurred in one lake. Wastewater effluent appears to be the primary source of antibiotics in the studied lakes, with lesser input from vetrinary medicine.

Project Staff: 

William Arnold and Jill Kerrigan