Document Type


Publication Date



American Society for Microbiology

Source Publication


Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1128/msphere.00307-23


Corrosion inhibitors, including zinc orthophosphate, sodium orthophosphate, and sodium silicate, are commonly used to prevent the corrosion of drinking water infrastructure. Metals such as zinc are known stressors for antibiotic resistance selection, and phosphates can increase microbial growth in drinking water distribution systems (DWDS). Yet, the influence of corrosion inhibitor type on antimicrobial resistance in DWDS is unknown. Here, we show that sodium silicates can decrease antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs), while zinc orthophosphate increases ARB and ARGs in source water microbial communities. Based on controlled bench-scale studies, zinc orthophosphate addition significantly increased the abundance of ARB resistant to ciprofloxacin, sulfonamides, trimethoprim, and vancomycin, as well as the genes sul1, qacEΔ1, an indication of resistance to quaternary ammonium compounds, and the integron-integrase gene intI1. In contrast, sodium silicate dosage at 10 mg/L resulted in decreased bacterial growth and antibiotic resistance selection compared to the other corrosion inhibitor additions. Source water collected from the drinking water treatment plant intake pipe resulted in less significant changes in ARB and ARG abundance due to corrosion inhibitor addition compared to source water collected from the pier at the recreational beach. In tandem with the antibiotic resistance shifts, significant microbial community composition changes also occurred. Overall, the corrosion inhibitor sodium silicate resulted in the least selection for antibiotic resistance, which suggests it is the preferred corrosion inhibitor option for minimizing antibiotic resistance proliferation in DWDS. However, the selection of an appropriate corrosion inhibitor must also be appropriate for the water chemistry of the system (e.g., pH, alkalinity) to minimize metal leaching first and foremost and to adhere to the lead and copper rule.


Published version. mSphere, Vol. 8, No. 5 (September/October 2023). DOI. © 2023 American Society for Microbiology. Used with permission.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

McNamara_15999acc.docx (744 kB)
ADA Accessible Version