Antibacterial biocides in the water cycle - an integrated approach to assess and manage risks for antibiotic resistance development
The overall aim of BIOCIDE is to determine how antibacterial biocides (i.e., chemicals with antibacterial properties that are not used for treating infections) contribute to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in different aquatic/marine ecosystems, and to inform and enable measures that ultimately protects human health and safe water resources for both humans and wildlife.
Generated data will include:
- exposure levels in different matrices,
- concentrations that are likely to co-select for antibiotic resistance and promote horizontal gene transfer,
- identification of predominant and novel genetic mechanisms for co-selection, as well as
- a risk assessment.
The knowledge created and its impact will reach well beyond the European setting. We will provide means to guide action both at the source (approval) and in other parts of the water cycle. Predicted No Effect Concentrations and new methodology will facilitate possible future inclusion in regulatory systems, in Europe and elsewhere.
The maritime sector will receive guidance to improve sustainable transport by a better understanding of potential human health risks associated with the use of antifouling agents. The research has high relevance for all three JPIs and for several themes within the call, particularly those related to risk assessment and management.
Expected research results
- New knowledge on methods to analyse antibacterial biocides in environmental matrices, detect levels in various aquatic environments, generation of effect data that reflect the risks that biocides promote the development and spread of antibiotic resistance through selection and through horizontal gene transfer, underlying genetic mechanisms for how bacteria acquire biocide resistance, and data on how specific forms of biocide resistance links to antibiotic resistance in bacteria,
- An up-to-date database (BacMet) on antibacterial biocides with regards to resistance mechanisms, co-selection opportunities, predicted-no-effect-concentrations and literature references, supporting both research and risk management,
- An evaluation scheme on how antibiotic resistance risks related to the exposure of bacteria to antibacterial biocides formally could be incorporated in existing regulatory frameworks.