Characterization and source analysis of indoor/outdoor culturable airborne bacteria in a municipal wastewater treatment plant

Guangsu Xu , Yunping Han , Lin Li , Junxin Liu


Received January 01, 1900,Revised January 01, 1900, Accepted January 01, 1900, Available online January 01, 1900

Volume 30,2018,Pages 71-78

The potential health risks of airborne bacteria emission from a wastewater treatment process have been concerned. However, few studies have investigated the differences in community structure between indoor and outdoor bacteria. In this work, the characterization of airborne bacteria was studied in a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Beijing, China. Two indoor (i.e., fine screen room and sludge dewatering house) and two outdoor (i.e., aeration tank and control site) sampling sites were selected. An Andersen six-stage impactor was used for collecting culturable airborne bacteria in the air, and Illumina MiSeq sequencing was conducted to track the emission source of the culturable airborne bacteria. The results indicate that, compared with the outdoor aeration tank site, the concentrations of culturable airborne bacteria in the indoor fine screen room with poor ventilation were more than ten times higher and the particle size was about twice as large. The community structures of indoor and outdoor culturable airborne bacteria were obviously different. Enterobacteriaceae and opportunistic pathogens were detected in indoor culturable airborne bacteria, with wastewater and sludge dewatering machine identified as the primary sources. Conversely, Enterobacteriaceae and opportunistic pathogens were not detected in outdoor culturable airborne bacteria. Outdoor high wind speed might have resulted in rapid dilution and mixing of culturable airborne bacteria generated from the aeration tank with the ambient air. The results of the present research suggest that covering pollution sources, increasing ventilation rates, and using protective measures for personnel should be implemented to decrease the exposure risk to indoor culturable airborne bacteria.

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