In response to the growing problem of water scarcity, the reuse of treated urban wastewater is considered to be the most suitable and reliable alternative for sustainable water management and agricultural development. In spite of the benefits of this approach, there is currently a great deal of concern about the negative effects of chemical and biological contaminants, such as antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the transmission of antibiotic resistance elements and resistance genes.


Background and objectives

Various international organisations and the European Commission see the contaminants as a threat to public health because of their dissemination into the environment, the food chain, drinking water, etc. To solve these problems, scientists with interdisciplinary research/training backgrounds are urgently needed.

This training network will train a new generation of ESRs (early stage researchers) to address the risks associated with such contaminants in (drinking) water and wastewater reuse. Innovative chemical, molecular, microbiological, toxicological and modelling tools, and path-breaking process techniques will constitute the core of their scientific activities and training in their innovative research projects and studies.

Defining relevant Emission Limits Values (ELVs)

This project contributes to a better understanding of how antibiotic resistance from wastewater can be transmitted to humans and the environment through soil, groundwater, surface water and crops. The issues are being tackled by a multidisciplinary research team, with the private sector and policy-makers, and through communication, activities directed at stakeholders and the wider public. Relevant ELVs are determined, which is essential for the development and implementation of regulatory frameworks.

Broad-based research approach

ANSWER will result in a broad-based European research approach to define antibiotic resistance and transmission in a standardised manner. Centralised data collection will, for the first time, enable data comparisons, and thus clarify the impact of antibiotics and genetic mobile elements on the water cycle.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.