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This content will become publicly available on June 22, 2023

Title: Critical review of antibiotic resistance genes in the atmosphere
We conducted a critical review to establish what is known about the sources, characteristics, and dissemination of ARGs in the atmosphere. We identified 52 papers that reported direct measurements of bacterial ARGs in air samples and met other inclusion criteria. The settings of the studies fell into the following categories: urban, rural, hospital, industrial, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), composting and landfill sites, and indoor environments. Certain genes were commonly studied and generally abundant: sul1 , intI1 , β-lactam ARGs, and tetracycline ARGs. Abundances of total ARGs varied by season and setting, with air in urban areas having higher ARG abundance than rural areas during the summer and vice versa during the winter. There was greater consistency in the types and abundances of ARGs throughout the seasons in urban areas. Human activity within indoor environments was also linked to increased ARG content (abundance, diversity, and concentration) in the air. Several studies found that human exposure to ARGs through inhalation was comparable to exposure through drinking water or ingesting soil. Detection of ARGs in air is a developing field, and differences in sampling and analysis methods reflect the many possible approaches to studying ARGs in air and make direct comparisons between studies more » difficult. Methodologies need to be standardized to facilitate identification of the dominant ARGs in the air, determine their major sources, and quantify the role of atmospheric transport in dissemination of ARGs in the environment. With such knowledge we can develop better policies and guidelines to limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance. « less
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
870 to 883
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Elkins, Christopher A. (Ed.)
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