Newly funded: Study investigates antibiotic residue travel after release from point sources

August 3, 2021

More than 50 percent of antibiotic compounds used in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and animal husbandry facilities may be released into the environment, though the extent of their subsequent travel is not well understood. What is known is this unmitigated discharge plays a role in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the leading modern threats to animal, human, and ecosystem health. 

Now, a group of researchers including Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, and Irene Bueno Padilla, DVM, PhD, in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, as well as William Arnold, PhD, in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, will use $508,000 in new state funding to study antibiotic residue concentrations near point sources like hospitals and wastewater treatment facilities to better understand the correlation between antibiotic prescription over time and the concentrations of its residue in the environment—including how far antibiotic residue travels. 

Through this detailed study at a microgeographic scale, the team hopes to use their findings to help establish mitigation strategies at point sources to minimize the ill health effects caused by AMR. Singer, the principal investigator, has been researching and teaching geospatial modeling for 21 years—and has focused on the environmental dissemination of antibiotics for 19 years. Collectively, the research team—which includes additional collaborators from the University and the University of St. Thomas—has more than 60 years of experience in this area. 

Project funding was made possible by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund logo contains an up-close view of two loons on the water, facing each other, as the sun sparkles in a blue sky backdrop.



A pipe emerges horizontally from a deciduous embankment and discharges water runoff into a body of water (probably river)
CVM research team