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Land Application of Manure and Class B Biosolids: An Occupational and Public Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment

Brooks, John P., McLaughlin, Michael R., Gerba, Charles P., Pepper, Ian L.
Journal of environmental quality 2012 v.41 no.6 pp. 2009
Campylobacter jejuni, Cryptosporidium, Enterovirus, Listeria, aerosols, animal manures, biosolids, crops, exposure scenario, fomites, harvesting, land application, microbiological risk assessment, occupational exposure, pathogenicity, pathogens, polluted soils, quantitative risk assessment, regrowth, risk, risk estimate, soil ingestion, soil pollution, soil productivity, uncertainty, viruses, wildlife
Land application is a practical use of municipal Class B biosolids and manure that also promotes soil fertility and productivity. To date, no study exists comparing biosolids to manure microbial risks. This study used quantitative microbial risk assessment to estimate pathogen risks from occupational and public exposures during scenarios involving fomite, soil, crop, and aerosol exposures. Greatest one-time risks were from direct consumption of contaminated soil or exposure to fomites, with one-time risks greater than 10. Recent contamination and high exposures doses increased most risks. and enteric viruses provided the greatest single risks for most scenarios, particularly in the short term. All pathogen risks were decreased with time, 1 d to14 mo between land application and exposure; decreases in risk were typically over six orders of magnitude beyond 30 d. Nearly all risks were reduced to below 10 when using a 4-mo harvest delay for crop consumption. Occupational, more direct risks were greater than indirect public risks, which often occur after time and dilution have reduced pathogen loads to tolerable levels. Comparison of risks by pathogen group confirmed greater bacterial risks from manure, whereas viral risks were exclusive to biosolids. A direct comparison of the two residual types showed that biosolids use had greater risk because of the high infectivity of viruses, whereas the presence of environmentally recalcitrant pathogens such as and maintained manure risk. Direct comparisons of shared pathogens resulted in greater manure risks. Overall, it appears that in the short term, risks were high for both types of residuals, but given treatment, attenuation, and dilution, risks can be reduced to near-insignificant levels. That being said, limited data sets, dose exposures, site-specific inactivation rates, pathogen spikes, environmental change, regrowth, and wildlife will increase risk and uncertainty and remain areas poorly understood.