Background: Cephalosporin antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections in humans
and animals. Their excessive usage and massive production rates have led to their presence in the
environment, causing serious threats, such as antibiotic resistance. Several methods have been used
for the detection and quantification of these antibiotic traces in the environment; among them, sensors
have been the most advanced tools that can be very useful for online on-spot detection of these
antibiotics. This review briefly discussed electrochemical, colorimetric and biosensors and their use
in the detection of trace antibiotics. The provided information gives a brief view of the developed
methods that will be helpful in the development of commercially applicable sensing devices for
real-time monitoring of antibiotics in the environment.
Methods: Research and online content related to the detection of cephalosporin antibiotics were
collected. Research methodologies and results were studied and compared. The screening of available
data was done by experts, and the most advanced and useful methods were described. A brief introduction
to sensing methodologies and the recent advancement in these techniques was reviewed.
Results: Different analytical techniques have been used for the detection and quantification of environmental
pollutants. Sensors are small-sized devices that have gone through great advancement in
recent decades, have leading to highly sensitive and selective tools for trace antibiotic detection.
Electrochemical sensors have advantages of high selectivity and robust receptors, while colorimetric
sensors provide rapid detection with visible color changes. Biosensors have higher sensitivity
and selectivity but are sensitive to environmental changes. There is a great need to develop a simple
technique that may combine advantages of all these sensing techniques and can be used in the real
world for the screening of antibiotic traces.
Conclusion: The recent progress in sensing technology has led to the development of highly sensitive
and selective sensors, but they have lab-based applications. We still lack the availability of
sensing methodologies that can provide online monitoring of environmental pollutants in the real
environment. The recent achievements and inter-disciplinary research have been very fruitful and
given hope that we may obtain simple and useful sensing tools for the screening of antibiotic traces
in the environment.