HORIZON 2020 Project "ANSWER" - Antibiotics and mobile antibiotic resistances in treated wastewater: risks and innovative solutions.


Multi-resistant germs are a major challenge for healthcare systems, with 25,000 people dying each year in Europe as a result of them. The germs that enter wastewater treatment plants through wastewater from hospitals or industry, for example, often cannot be removed by wastewater treatment technologies. This project therefore aims, among other things, to research what promotes the emergence of antibiotic resistance in wastewater and how this can be contained.

Project description

Every year, 25,000 people in Europe fall victim to multi-resistant germs(ECDC/EMA Report 2009). Wastewater treatment plants polluted with wastewater from hospitals, industry, agriculture and private households are central distribution platforms of antibiotic resistance. Currently applied wastewater treatment technologies are not capable of satisfactorily removing antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. Recycled water, used as drinking water or for soil irrigation, is a potential source of these resistances. Together with a new generation of young researchers, we are trying to find an "ANSWER" to the following questions:

What mechanisms now favor the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance in wastewater and sewage sludge?

What are the risks associated with the application of treated water?

What methods, what interventions can be brought to bear to contain the spread of antibiotic resistance from this source?

What information is needed to provide legislators with a means to intervene in an evidence-based regulatory manner to protect the public?

18 institutions from nine countries will work together on this for four years. AGES will train a young researcher at the Institute of Medical Microbiology in direct cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology and together they will investigate issues related to the horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater and sewage sludge. AGES is contributing its many years of expertise in the field of real-time PCR detection of resistance genes in soil and is providing scientific advice.

Project details

Project acronym: ANSWER

Project coordination: Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos, University of Cyprus (Cyprus)
Project Management Austria: Ass. Prof. Dr. Norbert Kreuzinger, Technical University Vienna (Austria)
Project team: University of Cyprus (Cyprus), Environmental Institute (Slovak Republic), KWR Water B.V. (Netherlands), Volcani Centre (Israel), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain), Adventech (Portugal), Universidade Catolica Portuguesa (Portugal), Technical University Dresden (Germany), Universita degli studi di Salerno (Italy), Technical University Vienna (Austria), AGES - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (Austria), Abwasserverband Braunschweig (Germany), Biodetection Systems BV (Netherlands), HighChem (Slovakia), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italy), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), VA TECH WABAG GmbH (Austria)

Funding: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks – HORIZON 2020 / EU research framework (ANSWER — H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015)

Project duration: 07/2015 bis 06/2019

Last updated: 31.08.2023

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