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.