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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Sewage-associated plastic waste washed up on beaches can act as a reservoir for faecal bacteria, potential human pathogens, and genes for antimicrobial resistance
Author(s): Metcalf, Rebecca
White, Hannah L
Moresco, Vanessa
Ormsby, Michael J
Oliver, David M
Quilliam, Richard S
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Keywords: Beach pollution
Environmental pathogens
Plastic pollution
Sewage discharge
Wet wipes
Issue Date: Jul-2022
Date Deposited: 29-May-2022
Citation: Metcalf R, White HL, Moresco V, Ormsby MJ, Oliver DM & Quilliam RS (2022) Sewage-associated plastic waste washed up on beaches can act as a reservoir for faecal bacteria, potential human pathogens, and genes for antimicrobial resistance. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 180, Art. No.: 113766.
Abstract: Sewage-associated plastic wastes, such as wet wipes and cotton bud sticks, commonly wash up on beaches; however, it is unclear whether this represents a public health risk. In this study, sewage-associated plastic waste, and naturally occurring substrates (seaweed and sand), were collected from ten beaches along the Firth of Forth estuary (Scotland, UK) and analysed using selective media for the faecal indicator organisms (FIOs) E. coli and intestinal enterococci (IE), and potential human pathogens (Vibrio spp.). Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) analysis was used to determine antibiotic resistance in selected strains. FIOs and Vibrio were more often associated with wet wipes and cotton bud sticks than with seaweed, and there was evidence of resistance to several antibiotics. This work demonstrates that plastics associated with sewage pollution can facilitate the survival and dissemination of FIOs and Vibrio and thus, could present an as yet unquantified potential risk to human health at the beach.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113766
Rights: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. You are not required to obtain permission to reuse this article.

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