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Bioaerosol emissions associated with pit latrine emptying operations
- Farling, Stewart, Rogers, Tate, Knee, Jackie S., Tilley, Elizabeth A., Brown, Joe, Deshusses, Marc A.
- The Science of the total environment 2019 v.648 pp. 1082-1086
- DNA, air, bioaerosols, coliform bacteria, emissions, enteropathogens, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, feces, risk, sanitation, Malawi
- Pit latrines are the most common sanitation option in the developing world. They are simple to build but require periodic emptying which results in widespread dispersion of fecal pathogens in the environment. While much is known about the health risks of fecal-oral exposure, little is known about those resulting from the aerosolization of pathogens from fecal material. Bioaerosols were sampled around seven pit latrines before, after, and during emptying in Blantyre, Malawi. Bioaerosols were collected directly onto nutrient and selective medium agar plates using an impact sampler. DNA was extracted from some plates and analyzed for selected enteric pathogens. Total heterotrophic bacteria in the air during active emptying ranged from 198 to >13,000 colony forming units (CFU) per m3, and generally increased above background levels during pit emptying. At about one meter from the pit latrine emptying, E. coli and total coliforms concentrations in air reached up to 350 and 790 CFU m−3, respectively. Additionally, at four out of the seven pit latrines sites sampled, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) LT/ST was confirmed to be present in bioaerosols. This work demonstrates the potential for airborne dispersion of enteric pathogens during pit latrine emptying operations.