Human migration activities drive the fluctuation of ARGs: Case study of landfills in Nanjing, eastern China

Mingming Sun, Mao Ye, Arthur P. Schwab, Xu Li, Jinzhong Wan, Zhong Wei, Jun Wu, Ville Petri Friman, Kuan Liu, Da Tian, Manqiang Liu, Huixin Li, Feng Hu, Xin Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Landfills are perfect sites to study the effect of human migration on fluctuation of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) as they are the final destination of municipal waste. For example, large-scale human migration during the holidays is often accompanied by changes in waste dumping having potential effects on ARG abundance. Three landfills were selected to examine fluctuation in the abundance of fifteen ARGs and Intl1 genes for 14 months in Nanjing, eastern China. Mass human migration, the amount of dumped waste and temperature exerted the most significant effects on bimonthly fluctuations of ARG levels in landfill sites. As a middle-sized cosmopolitan city in China, millions of college students and workers migrate during holidays, contributing to the dramatic increases in waste production and fluctuation in ARG abundances. In line with this, mass migration explained most of the variation in waste dumping. The waste dumping also affected the bioaccessibility of mixed-compound pollutants that further positively impacted the level of ARGs. The influence of various bioaccessible compounds on ARG abundance followed the order: antibiotics > nutrients > metals > organic pollutants. Concentrations of bioaccessible compounds were more strongly correlated with ARG levels compared to total compound concentrations. Improved waste classification and management strategies could thus help to decrease the amount of bioaccessible pollutants leading to more effective control for urban ARG dissemination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Sep 5 2016


  • Antibiotic resistance genes
  • Human migration
  • Landfills
  • Mixed-compound bioaccessibility
  • Waste dumping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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