Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Wastewater and Biosolids As Sources of Airborne Microorganisms

Author
item Dowd, Scot

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2002
Publication Date: April 30, 2002
Citation: Dowd, S.E. 2002. Wastewater and biosolids as sources of airborne microorganisms. In: Bitton, G. Editor. Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology. New York, NY:John Wiley and Sons. p. 3320-3330.

Interpretive Summary: It is well known that municipal wastewater and wastewater residuals contain a variety of pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms (1). When sewage from a large population is collected and treated in a centralized location, or when reclaimed wastewater or wastewater residuals are recycled and applied to agricultural fields, the public health must be protected by reducing public exposure to these concentrated sources of pathogens. One potential pathway for transmission of these pathogens to the public is the aeromicrobiological pathway. The aeromicrobiological pathway includes aerosolization of the microbial pathogens from the wastewater source, followed by atmospheric transport (usually associated with wind currents), and eventual deposition possibly in the lungs of a susceptible human. This article describes and reviews various studies that evaluate wastewater derived aerosols in relation to the aeromicrobiological pathway.

Technical Abstract: It is well known that municipal wastewater and wastewater residuals contain a variety of pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms. When sewage from a large city is collected and treated in a centralized location, or when reclaimed wastewater or wastewater residuals are recycled and applied to agricultural fields, the public health must be protected by reducing exposure to these concentrated sources of pathogens. One potential pathway for transmission of these pathogens to the public is the through the air. Aerosolization of the microbial pathogens from the wastewater source, followed by atmospheric transport (usually associated with wind currents), and eventual deposition possibly in the lungs of a susceptible human could result in infection. This article describes and reviews previous studies related to wastewater aerosols and pathogens.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page