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Quality of greywater treated in biochar filter and risk assessment of gastroenteritis due to household exposure during maintenance and irrigation

Dalahmeh, S.S., Lalander, C., Pell, M., Vinnerås, B., Jönsson, H.
Journal of applied microbiology 2016 v.121 no.5 pp. 1427-1443
Escherichia coli, Rotavirus, Salmonella, biochar, biochemical oxygen demand, filters, gardens, gastroenteritis, green onions, ingestion, irrigation, recycling, risk, summer, wastewater, wastewater treatment, Jordan
AIM: This study evaluated treatment of greywater (GW) by a biochar filter in Jordan and assessed the annual risks of infection (Pᵢ‐ₐₙₙᵤₐₗ), annual risk of disease (Pd‐ₐₙₙᵤₐₗ) and disease burden (in disability‐adjusted life years; DALYs) of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella spp. and rotavirus due to ingestion of GW during system maintenance and consumption of green onions irrigated with treated and nontreated GW. METHODS AND RESULTS: The biochar filter efficiently removed 93% of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD₅) and 85% of solids, while removal of Escherichia coli was insignificant. Treatment of GW decreased the median Pd‐ₐₙₙᵤₐₗ due to ingestion of GW from 1·39 × 10⁻² to 6·0 × 10⁻³ for Salmonella spp. but did not affect Pd‐ₐₙₙᵤₐₗ caused by rotavirus (9·73 × 10⁻¹ to 1·0). Consumption of onions irrigated with treated GW had a median Pd‐ₐₙₙᵤₐₗ of 1·25 × 10⁻⁹ to 1·2 × 10⁻⁸ for Salmonella spp. and 4·96 × 10⁻⁴ to 4·37 × 10⁻³ for rotavirus infection, which was 99·9 and 90% lower, respectively, than the risk when consuming onions irrigated with nontreated GW. The highest risks of gastrointestinal disease were thus associated mainly with direct ingestion of GW when maintaining the system. CONCLUSIONS: Garden produce irrigated with GW treated in biochar filter did not display intolerable risks of rotavirus‒based gastroenteritis during summer season in the study area given that the produce is harvested 1 to 2 days, and washed, before consumption. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: This study contributes to scientific‐based knowledge on the suitability of biochar filters for onsite greywater treatment and confirms the microbial safety of recycling treated greywater for garden irrigation.