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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2004 Jun;58(2):277-83.

Suboptimal chlorine treatment of drinking water leads to selection of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Biomembrane Division, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Lucknow 226001, India.


The present study was undertaken to investigate the spectrum of bacteria present in the River Gomti water before and after chlorination for drinking purposes. We observed that the strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that survived chlorination on three out of seven occasions were resistant to almost all the antibiotics tested. The chlorine-resistant bacteria had mucoid colonies and grew better at 24 degrees C. All attempts to isolate the plasmid responsible for chlorine resistance were unsuccessful. Laboratory experiments using different strains of the P. aeruginosa in distilled water showed that only the resistant strain survived chlorine treatment at a dose of < or =500 microg/L. Similar results were obtained when water collected from seven different sites on the River Gomti was treated with graded doses of chlorine. At the higher dose of chlorine, all the bacteria died in 30 min, whereas with lower doses all the bacteria survived. The present study underscores the importance of measuring water chlorine concentrations to assure they are sufficiently high to remove pathogenic bacteria from drinking water. To our knowledge, this is the first report in the literature of the selection of multidrug-resistant bacteria by suboptimal chlorine treatment of water.

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