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Coupled factors influencing the transport and retention of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in saturated porous media

Kim, Hyunjung N., Walker, Sharon L., Bradford, Scott A.
Water research 2010 v.44 no.4 pp. 1213
Cryptosporidium parvum, oocysts, saturated conditions, porous media, microbial contamination, ionic strength, water quality, sand, hydrodynamics, pathogens
The coupled role of solution ionic strength (IS), hydrodynamic force, and pore structure on the transport and retention of viable Cryptosporidium parvum oocyst was investigated via batch, packed-bed column, and micromodel systems. The experiments were conducted over a wide range of IS (0.1-100 mM), at two Darcy velocities (0.2 and 0.5 cm/min), and in two sands (median diameters of 275 and 710 micrometer). Overall, the results suggested that oocyst retention was a complex process that was very sensitive to the solution IS, the Darcy velocity, and the grain size. Increasing IS led to enhanced retention of oocysts in the column, which is qualitatively consistent with predictions of Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek theory. Conversely, increasing velocity and grain size resulted in less retention of oocysts in the column due to the difference in the fluid drag force and the rates of mass transfer from the liquid to the solid phase and from high to low velocity regions. Oocyst retention was controlled by a combined role of low velocity regions, weak attractive interactions, and/or steric repulsion. The contribution of each mechanism highly depended on the solution IS. In particular, micromodel observations indicated that enhanced oocyst retention occurred in low velocity regions near grain-grain contacts under highly unfavorable conditions (IS = 0.1 mM). Oocyst retention was also found to be influenced by weak attractive interactions (induced by the secondary energy minimum, surface roughness, and/or nanoscale chemical heterogeneity) when the IS = 1 mM. Reversible retention of oocysts to the sand in batch and column studies under favorable attachment conditions (IS = 100 mM) was attributed to steric repulsion between the oocysts and the sand surface due to the presence of oocyst surface macromolecules. Comparison of experimental observations and theoretical predictions from classic filtration theory further supported the presence of this weak interaction due to steric repulsion.