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Aerosols from a wastewater treatment plant using oxidation ditch process: Characteristics, source apportionment, and exposure risks

Yang, Tang, Han, Yunping, Liu, Junxin, Li, Lin
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 627-638
Dermatophilus, Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Selenomonas, Staphylococcus aureus, Veillonella, Xanthobacter, aeration, aerosols, air, arsenic, bacteria, breathing, cadmium, carcinogenicity, cobalt, dewatering, exposure pathways, human health, oxidation, risk, risk assessment, sludge, wastewater, wastewater treatment, worker honey bees
The study of aerosol dispersion characteristics in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) has attracted extensive attention. Oxidation ditch (OD) is a commonly implemented process during biological wastewater treatment. This study assessed the component characteristics, source apportionment, and exposure risks of aerosols generated from a WWTP using the OD process (AWO). The results indicated that the aeration part of oxidation ditch (ODA) exhibited the highest concentrations and proportions of the respiratory fractions (RF) of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Some pathogenic or opportunistic-pathogenic bacteria and carcinogenic metal(loid)s were detected in the AWO. The source apportionment results indicated that the outdoor wastewater treatment processes and ambient air contributed to the constitution of the AWO. The indoor aerosols were mainly constituted by composition of the wastewater treatment process such as the sludge dewatering room (SDR). The pathogenic or opportunistic-pathogenic bacteria with eight genera (Colinsella, Dermatophilus, Enterobactor, Erycherichia-Shigella, Ledionella, Selenomonas, Xanthobacter, and Veillonella) were largely attributed to wastewater or sludge. The risk assessment suggested that inhalation was the main exposure pathway for aerosols (including bacteria and metal(loid)s). Additionally, As indicated the highest non-carcinogenic risks. Furthermore, As, Cd, and Co were associated with high carcinogenic risks. The ODA and sludge dewatering room (SDR) indicated the highest carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks of metal(loid)s, respectively. Thus, the AWO should be sufficiently researched and monitored to mitigate their harmful effects on human health, particularly with regard to the health of the site workers.