Occurrence and Distribution of Antibiotics in the Water, Sediment, and Biota of Freshwater and Marine Environments: A Review

Zeinab Maghsodian, Ali Mohammad Sanati, Tebogo Mashifana, Mika Sillanpää, Shengyu Feng, Tan Nhat, Bahman Ramavandi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Antibiotics, as pollutants of emerging concern, can enter marine environments, rivers, and lakes and endanger ecology and human health. The purpose of this study was to review the studies conducted on the presence of antibiotics in water, sediments, and organisms in aquatic environments (i.e., seas, rivers, and lakes). Most of the reviewed studies were conducted in 2018 (15%) and 2014 (11%). Antibiotics were reported in aqueous media at a concentration of <1 ng/L–100 μg/L. The results showed that the highest number of works were conducted in the Asian continent (seas: 74%, rivers: 78%, lakes: 87%, living organisms: 100%). The highest concentration of antibiotics in water and sea sediments, with a frequency of 49%, was related to fluoroquinolones. According to the results, the highest amounts of antibiotics in water and sediment were reported as 460 ng/L and 406 ng/g, respectively. In rivers, sulfonamides had the highest abundance (30%). Fluoroquinolones (with an abundance of 34%) had the highest concentration in lakes. Moreover, the highest concentration of fluoroquinolones in living organisms was reported at 68,000 ng/g, with a frequency of 39%. According to the obtained results, it can be concluded that sulfonamides and fluoroquinolones are among the most dangerous antibiotics due to their high concentrations in the environment. This review provides timely information regarding the presence of antibiotics in different aquatic environments, which can be helpful for estimating ecological risks, contamination levels, and their management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1461
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • antibiotics
  • biota
  • emerging concern
  • marine environments
  • sediments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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