Broadcast of microbial aerosols by stacks of sewage treatment plants and effects of ozonation on bacteria in the gaseous effluent.
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Broadcast of microbial aerosols by stacks of sewage treatment plants and effects of ozonation on bacteria in the gaseous effluent.

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      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      In the aeration basins of sewage treatment plants, compressed air is supplied to diffusers near the bottom of tanks to aid in the conversion by aerobic bacteria of dissolved and suspended solids of sewage into particles that will settle. Air bubbles breaking at the air-water interface will aerosolize bacteria that concentrate in the uppermost microlayer. The microbiological output of a plant in New York City with such a system was monitored. Samples of the gaseous effluent were collected inside the aeration building, inside the building's stack, 300 meters upwind (background sampler), and 300 meters downwind (test sampler), using Andersen samplers. Among the genera identified in the atmosphere in and around the plant were Mycobacterium, Klebsiella, and Streptococcus, all potentially pathogenic. The disinfection power of ozone, which is generally used for odor control, was also tested. Samples were taken from the ozone mixing chamber in the stack of the thickentng tank building. No significant difference in general bacterial counts could be detected at different levels of ozone production. It appears that in the air, ozone is an ineffective bactericidal agent. Results in this preliminary study demonstrate the need to evaluate the hazard of microbial aerosols generated by sewage treatment plants similar to the one studied. The possibility of such hazards is of special interest where facilities are located upwind of populations especially susceptible to infections, because of age of debility. Correlations with epidemiologic data are indicated.
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