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The efficacy of zero valent iron-sand filtration on the reduction of Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes in surface water for use in irrigation

Marik, Claire. M., Anderson-Coughlin, Brienna, Gartley, Samantha, Craighead, Shani, Bradshaw, Rhodel, Kulkarni, Prachi, Sharma, Manan, Kniel, Kalmia E.
Environmental research 2019 v.173 pp. 33-39
Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, cell walls, filtration, groundwater, iron, irrigation, irrigation water, leaves, lettuce, pathogens, poly(vinyl chloride), recycled water, risk reduction, sand, sand filters, surface water
The use of surface and recycled water sources for irrigation can reduce demand on critical groundwater resources. Treatment or mitigation may be necessary for the use of these alternative water sources in order to reduce risk associated with microbial pathogens present in the water. In this study, the efficacy of a zero-valent iron (ZVI) sand filter was assessed for the reduction of Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli in surface water. Water recovered from an agricultural pond was inoculated with E. coli TVS353 and an environmental L. monocytogenes isolate at 7 Log10 CFU/mL and horizontally filtered over a six-month period through a PVC pipe filter, filled with 35%:65% (volume:volume) ZVI:sand or sand alone. Filtered water was used to irrigate lettuce and bacterial persistence on lettuce leaves was determined for 7 days post-irrigation. Both ZVI:sand-filtered water and sand-filtered water contained significantly (p < 0.005) lower levels of E. coli and L. monocytogenes compared to initial unfiltered inoculated water. Population reductions of E. coli and L. monocytogenes were comparable after sand filtration. However, ZVI:sand filtration resulted in significantly greater population reductions of L. monocytogenes (P < 0.05) compared to E. coli. Populations of E. coli on leaves of lettuce plants irrigated with ZVI:sand-filtered water were not significantly lower than populations on plants irrigated with sand-filtered irrigation water over the 7-day period. However, populations of L. monocytogenes on lettuce leaves irrigated with ZVI-treated water were significantly lower than counts on plants irrigated with sand-filtered irrigation water on days 3 and 4 post irrigation (p = 0.052 and p = 0.042 for days 3 and 4, respectively. The differences observed in reductions of L. monocytogenes and E. coli by ZVI filtration is due to the differing effect that ZVI disruption has on Gram-positive and Gram-negative cell walls and membranes. ZVI- sand filters show promising results as an inexpensive on-farm technology for the mitigation of enteric foodborne bacterial populations in pond water over a six-month period.