Fourteen antibiotics, including five quinolones (QNs), five sulfonamides (SAs), and four tetracyclines (TCs), were selected to investigate their occurrence and elimination in three sewage treatment plants (STPs) by employing different treatment technologies in Urumqi (two STPs) and Shihezi (one STP), China. The STP in Shihezi was chosen as representative to investigate the distribution of antibiotics in a sludge-sewage system. Results showed that the concentrations of most detected antibiotics ranged from tens to hundreds of nanograms per liter in influent samples and under 100 ng L−1 in effluent samples. QNs and TCs were dominant species with concentrations of 2.33 mg kg−1 to 3.34 mg kg−1 and 0.36 mg kg−1 to 0.47 mg kg−1 in sludge samples, respectively. The elimination rates of target antibiotics by various STPs ranged from 17% to 100%. The STP with anaerobic/anoxic/aerobic and membrane bio-reactor technology removed antibiotics more efficiently than those with anaerobic/anoxic/oxic and oxidation ditch technology. The elimination capacities of treatment units from the three STPs were also investigated. SAs were mainly degraded in biological treatment units; conversely, QNs and TCs were significantly eliminated in sedimentary treatment units. Ozonation effectively removed remaining antibiotics but not UV and chlorination disinfection in this study.

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