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Legionella-- a threat to groundwater, pathogen transport through recharge basin media columns

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This study was devised to elucidate key information concerning the potential risk posed by Legionella in reclaimed water. A series of biological experiments and a recharge basin soil column study were conducted to examine the survival, growth, and transport of

This study was devised to elucidate key information concerning the potential risk posed by Legionella in reclaimed water. A series of biological experiments and a recharge basin soil column study were conducted to examine the survival, growth, and transport of L. pneumophila through engineered reclaimed water systems. A pilot-scale, column study was set up to measure Legionella transport in the columns under Arizona recharge basin conditions. Two columns, A and B, were packed to a depth of 122 cm with a loamy sand media collected from a recharge basin in Mesa, Arizona. The grain size distribution of Column A differed from that of Column B by the removal of fines passing the #200 sieve. The different soil profiles represented by column A and B allowed for further investigation of soil attributes which influence the microbial transport mechanism. Both clear PVC columns stand at a height of 1.83 m with an inner diameter of 6.35 cm. Sampling ports were drilled into the column at the soil depths 15, 30, 60, 92, 122 cm. Both columns were acclimated with tertiary treated waste water and set to a flow rate of approximately 1.5 m/d. The columns were used to assess the transport of a bacterial indicator, E. coli, in addition to assessing the study's primary pathogen of concern, Legionella. Approximately, 〖10〗^7 to 〖10〗^9 E. coli cells or 〖10〗^6 to 〖10〗^7Legionella cells were spiked into the columns' head waters for each experiment. Periodically, samples were collected from each column's sampling ports, until a minimum of three pore volume passed through the columns.

The pilot-scale, column study produced novel results which demonstrated the mechanism for Legionella to be transported through recharge basin soil. E. coli was transported, through 122 cm of the media in under 6 hours, whereas, Legionella was transported, through the same distance, in under 30 hours. Legionella has been shown to survive in low nutrient conditions for over a year. Given the novel results of this proof of concept study, a claim can be made for the transport of Legionella into groundwater aquifers through engineering recharge basin conditions, in Central Arizona.

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2014

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Investigation into Bacteroides persistence in drinking water distribution systems and alternative methods to detect this fecal indicator

Description

Bacteroides have been suggested as alternative indicators of fecal pollution since they are highly abundant in feces and are thought to have limited potential to grow in environment. However, recent literature suggests that Bacteroides can potentially survive within water distribution

Bacteroides have been suggested as alternative indicators of fecal pollution since they are highly abundant in feces and are thought to have limited potential to grow in environment. However, recent literature suggests that Bacteroides can potentially survive within water distribution systems. The first objective of this study was therefore to investigate the validity of Bacteroides as a fecal indicator for drinking water through laboratory experiments and field studies. Experiments were performed using a laboratory scale PVC model water distribution system that was spiked with 109 Bacteroides. Samples were collected over the following four and analyzed by culture and molecular-based techniques. Second, field studies were performed by collecting water meters from two large chlorinated water distribution systems in central Arizona. Upon removal for repair by city personnel, meters were collected and biofilms samples were gathered within two hours. The biofilms were then analyzed using culture and molecular-based assays. The results from these studies support the hypothesis that Bacteroides DNA may be found in water distribution systems despite the difficulty of cultivating these bacterial cells. These experiments present the importance of considering biofilm interactions with fecal indicator bacteria when performing molecular assays on environmental samples, as biofilms may provide protection from high oxygen concentrations and grazing protozoa in bulk water that limit the persistence Bacteroides in the environment. Although the significance of biofilm interactions with surface or recreational waters may be small, they are likely important when considering drinking water delivered through distribution systems. The second objective of this study was to investigate alternative detection methodologies for the fecal indicator Bacteroides. In particular, this study focused on using a simplified protocol of Nucleic Acid Sequence Based Amplification (NASBA) and Thermophilic Helicase-Dependent Amplification (tHDA) to amplify the highly conserved 16s rRNA gene in the genomic DNA of fecal indicator Bacteroides. The results of this study show that the simplified NASBA procedure was not able to amplify the target, while continuous problems with tHDA exposed the methods lack of reliability. These results suggest higher reliability in the isothermal amplification methods needs to be achieved before application to environmental samples.

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2012

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Colonization of granular activated carbon media filters by Legionella and heterotrophic bacterial cells

Description

Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters are final polishing step in the drinking water treatment systems for removal of dissolved organic carbon fractions. Generally filters are colonized by bacterial communities and their activity reduces biodegradable solutes allowing partial regeneration of GAC's

Granular activated carbon (GAC) filters are final polishing step in the drinking water treatment systems for removal of dissolved organic carbon fractions. Generally filters are colonized by bacterial communities and their activity reduces biodegradable solutes allowing partial regeneration of GAC's adsorptive capacity. When the bacteria pass into the filtrate due to increased growth, microbiological quality of drinking water is compromised and regrowth in the distribution system occurs. Bacteria attached to carbon particles as biofilms or in conjugation with other bacteria were observed to be highly resistant to post filtration microbial mitigation techniques. Some of these bacteria were identified as pathogenic.

This study focuses on one such pathogen Legionella pneumophila which is resistant to environmental stressors and treatment conditions. It is also responsible for Legionnaires' disease outbreak through drinking water thus attracting attention of regulatory agencies. The work assessed the attachment and colonization of Legionella and heterotrophic bacteria in lab scale GAC media column filters. Quantification of Legionella and HPC in the influent, effluent, column's biofilms and on the GAC particles was performed over time using fluorescent microscopy and culture based techniques.

The results indicated gradual increase in the colonization of the GAC particles with HPC bacteria. Initially high number of Legionella cells were detected in the column effluent and were not detected on GAC suggesting low attachment of the cells to the particles potentially due to lack of any previous biofilms. With the initial colonization of the filter media by other bacteria the number of Legionella cells on the GAC particles and biofilms also increased. Presence of Legionella was confirmed in all the samples collected from the columns spiked with Legionella. Significant increase in the Legionella was observed in column's inner surface biofilm (0.25 logs up to 0.52 logs) and on GAC particles (0.42 logs up to 0.63 logs) after 2 months. Legionella and HPC attached to column's biofilm were higher than that on GAC particles indicating the strong association with biofilms. The bacterial concentration slowly increased in the effluent. This may be due to column's wall effect decreasing filter efficiency, possible exhaustion of GAC capacity over time and potential bacterial growth.

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Date Created
2014

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Impact of viral infectivity on phototrophic microbes for biofuel applications

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Research in microbial biofuels has dramatically increased over the last decade. The bulk of this research has focused on increasing the production yields of cyanobacteria and algal cells and improving extraction processes. However, there has been little to no research

Research in microbial biofuels has dramatically increased over the last decade. The bulk of this research has focused on increasing the production yields of cyanobacteria and algal cells and improving extraction processes. However, there has been little to no research on the potential impact of viruses on the yields of these phototrophic microbes for biofuel production. Viruses have the potential to significantly reduce microbial populations and limit their growth rates. It is therefore important to understand how viruses affect phototrophic microbes and the prevalence of these viruses in the environment. For this study, phototrophic microbes were grown in glass bioreactors, under continuous light and aeration. Detection and quantification of viruses of both environmental and laboratory microbial strains were measured through the use of a plaque assay. Plates were incubated at 25º C under continuous direct florescent light. Several environmental samples were taken from Tempe Town Lake (Tempe, AZ) and all the samples tested positive for viruses. Virus free phototrophic microbes were obtained from plaque assay plates by using a sterile loop to scoop up a virus free portion of the microbial lawn and transferred into a new bioreactor. Isolated cells were confirmed virus free through subsequent plaque assays. Viruses were detected from the bench scale bioreactors of Cyanobacteria Synechocystis PCC 6803 and the environmental samples. Viruses were consistently present through subsequent passage in fresh cultures; demonstrating viral contamination can be a chronic problem. In addition TEM was performed to examine presence or viral attachment to cyanobacterial cells and to characterize viral particles morphology. Electron micrographs obtained confirmed viral attachment and that the viruses detected were all of a similar size and shape. Particle sizes were measured to be approximately 50-60 nm. Cell reduction was observed as a decrease in optical density, with a transition from a dark green to a yellow green color for the cultures. Phototrophic microbial viruses were demonstrated to persist in the natural environment and to cause a reduction in algal populations in the bioreactors. Therefore it is likely that viruses could have a significant impact on microbial biofuel production by limiting the yields of production ponds.

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Date Created
2014

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Transformed Legionella for application in engineering process validation in the built environment

Description

Legionella pneumophila is a waterborne pathogen that causes Legionnaires' disease, an infection which can lead to potentially fatal pneumonia. In a culture-based technique, Legionella is detected using buffered charcoal-yeast extract (BCYE) agar supplemented with L-cysteine, Iron salt and antibiotics. These

Legionella pneumophila is a waterborne pathogen that causes Legionnaires' disease, an infection which can lead to potentially fatal pneumonia. In a culture-based technique, Legionella is detected using buffered charcoal-yeast extract (BCYE) agar supplemented with L-cysteine, Iron salt and antibiotics. These supplements provide essential and complex nutrient requirements and help in the suppression of non-target bacteria in Legionella analysis. Legionella occurs naturally in freshwater environments and for their detection; a sample is plated on solid agar media and then incubated for several days. There are many challenges in the detection of Legionella in environmental waters and the built environments. A common challenge is that a variety of environmental bacteria can be presumptively identified as Legionella using the culture-based method. In addition, proper identification of Legionella requires long incubation period (3-9 days) while antibiotics used in BCYE agar have relatively short half-life time. In order to overcome some of the challenges, Legionella has been genetically modified to express reporter genes such Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) that can facilitate its detection in process validation studies under controlled laboratory conditions. However, such studies had limited success due to the instability of genetically modified Legionella strains. The development of a genetically modified Legionella with a much rapid growth rate (1-2 days) in simulated environmental systems (tightly-controlled water distribution system) is achieved. The mutant Legionella is engineered by transforming with a specific plasmid encoding CymR, LacZ and TetR genes. The newly engineered Legionella can grow on conventional BCYE agar media without L-Cysteine, Iron salt and only require one antibiotic (Tetracycline) to suppress the growth of other microorganisms in media. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of L. pneumophila strain capable of growing without L-Cysteine. We believe that this discovery would not only facilitate the study of the fate and transport of this pathogen in environmental systems, but also further our understanding of the genetics and metabolic pathways of Legionella.

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Date Created
2018

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Implementation of emerging technologies: treatment capability of peracetic acid and ultraviolet irradiation

Description

Advanced oxidation processes (AOP’s) are water/wastewater treatment processes simultaneously providing disinfection and potential oxidation of contaminants that may cause long-term adverse health effects in humans. One AOP involves injecting peracetic acid (PAA) upstream of an ultraviolet (UV) irradiation reactor.

Advanced oxidation processes (AOP’s) are water/wastewater treatment processes simultaneously providing disinfection and potential oxidation of contaminants that may cause long-term adverse health effects in humans. One AOP involves injecting peracetic acid (PAA) upstream of an ultraviolet (UV) irradiation reactor. Two studies were conducted, one in pilot-scale field conditions and another under laboratory conditions. A pilot-scale NeoTech UV reactor (rated for 375 GPM) was used in the pilot study, where a smaller version of this unit was used in the laboratory study (20 to 35 GPM). The pilot study analyzed coliform disinfection and also monitored water quality parameters including UV transmittance (UVT), pH and chlorine residual. Pilot study UV experiments indicate the unit is effectively treating flow streams (>6 logs total coliforms) twice the 95% UVT unit capacity (750 GPM or 17 mJ/cm2 UV Dose). The results were inconclusive on PAA/UV inactivation due to high data variability and field operation conditions creating low inlet concentrations.Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria and the enterobacteria phage P22—a surrogate for enteric viruses—were analyzed. UV inactivated >7.9 and 4 logs of E. coli and P22 respectively at a 16.8 mJ/cm2 UV dose in test water containing a significant organics concentration. When PAA doses of 0.25 and 0.5 mg/L were injected upstream of UV at approximately the same UV Dose, the average E.coli log inactivation increased to >8.9 and >9 logs respectively, but P22 inactivation decreased to 2.9 and 3.0 logs, respectively. A bench-scale study with PAA was also conducted for 5, 10 and 30 minutes of contact time, where 0.25 and 0.5 mg/L had <1 log inactivation of E. coli and P22 after 30 minutes of contact time. In addition, degradation of the chemical N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in tap water was analyzed, where UV degraded NDMA by 48 to 97% for 4 and 0.5 GPM flowrates, respectively. Adding 0.5 mg/L PAA upstream of UV did not significantly improve NDMA degradation.

The results under laboratory conditions indicate that PAA/UV have synergy in the inactivation of bacteria, but decrease virus inactivation. In addition, the pilot study demonstrates the applicability of the technology for full scale operation.

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2017

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Surface Disinfection on Non-porous Coupons using TiO2 with UV

Description

The ongoing COVID pandemic has opened the doors for the development of effective surface disinfection technologies. UV technology is one of the most effective technique to be used in combination with different photocatalytic agents such as Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) for

The ongoing COVID pandemic has opened the doors for the development of effective surface disinfection technologies. UV technology is one of the most effective technique to be used in combination with different photocatalytic agents such as Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) for microbial inactivation. There are many bacteria and viruses which have the potential to infect humans via surface-oral/inhalation pathway. Thus, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of these techniques used to inactivate microorganisms to minimize environmental transmission. UV light directly acts on bacteria and viruses by damaging their nucleic acids and protein structures. TiO2 acts as a photocatalyst, generates hydroxyl radicals under UV, leading to enhanced inactivation efficacy. This study focuses on the impact of UVC light at 254 nm wavelength in combination with spray formulations with TiO2 for the inactivation of E. coli (exposure times of 1, 5 and 10 minutes) and bacteriophages P22 (exposure times of 5 and 10 minutes) and MS2 (exposure times of 1 and 5 minutes). This study includes tests that explored the long-lasting impact of spray formulations on non-porous surface. Minimal inactivation of ~ 0.15 log inactivation of E. coli was resulted using TiO¬2 alone but when UV was added to the procedure on average 3 log inactivation was achieved. It was noted that MS2 was found to be more susceptible to UV as compared to P22 due to its higher inactivation rate. The spray formulation homogeneity is a critical factor in consistent microbial inactivation. In addition, the UV intensity of the handheld device is an important factor for total disinfection. However, the combined spray formulation and UV technology is an effective method of surface disinfection.

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2021

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Utilization of fluorescent microspheres as a surrogate for Cryptosporidium removal in conventional drinking water treatment

Description

The purpose of this study was to determine the applicability of fluorescent microspheres as a surrogate to measure the removal of Cryptosporidium oocysts through the coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration steps of conventional water treatment. In order to maintain accuracy

The purpose of this study was to determine the applicability of fluorescent microspheres as a surrogate to measure the removal of Cryptosporidium oocysts through the coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration steps of conventional water treatment. In order to maintain accuracy and applicability, a local water treatment facility was chosen as the system to model. The city of Chandler Arizona utilizes conventional treatment methodologies to remove pathogens from municipal drinking water and thus the water, coagulant, polymer, and doses concentrations were sourced directly from the plant. Jar testing was performed on four combinations of coagulant, polymer, and fluorescent microsphere to determine if the log removal was similar to that of Cryptosporidium oocysts.

Complications with the material properties of the microspheres arose during testing that ultimately yielded unfavorable but conclusive results. Log removal of microspheres did not increase with added coagulant in the predicted manner, though the beads were seen aggregating, the low density of the particles made the sedimentation step inefficient. This result can be explained by the low density of the microspheres as well as the potential presence of residual coagulant present in the system. Given the unfavorable properties of the beads, they do not appear to be a suitable candidate for the surrogacy of Cryptosporidium oocysts in conventional drinking water treatment. The beads in their current state are not an adequate surrogate; however, future testing has been outlined to modify the experiment in such a way that the microspheres should behave like oocysts in terms of physical transportation.

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Date Created
2015

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An investigation of factors affecting the spread of D. bugensis in Arizona's reservoirs

Description

Quagga Mussels (Dreissena bugensis) are an invasive species of mollusk that have established themselves within the Colorado River system of Arizona since 2007. However, despite close proximity and frequent travel by recreational boaters between reservoirs, they have not yet infested

Quagga Mussels (Dreissena bugensis) are an invasive species of mollusk that have established themselves within the Colorado River system of Arizona since 2007. However, despite close proximity and frequent travel by recreational boaters between reservoirs, they have not yet infested the Salt River or Verde River systems. Laboratory experimentation was done to test the survival rate of adult D. bugensis specimens in waters collected from Bartlett Lake (Verde River), Saguaro Lake (Salt River), and Salt River Project (SRP) canals (Salt River/Verde River/Colorado River blend) as well as Central Arizona Project (CAP) canals with the addition of turbidity to simulate high runoff storm events. Under each condition, adult survival for a time period of 21 days exceeded 98%, ruling out water chemistry or turbidity as a factor. Spawning was investigated using mussels collected from Lake Pleasant in August 2015. In 4 trials of serotonin dosage between 0.5 – 1.0 mMol, spawning was not successful. Calanoid copepod predation was also investigated by field sampling at Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake, and Bartlett Lake during September 2015. Calanoid copepods were identified in Lake Pleasant at a density of 104.22 individuals per cubic meter at a depth of 2 meters and 9.75 individuals per cubic meter at the surface. Calanoid copepods were not found in Bartlett Lake or Saguaro Lake, ruling out copepod predation as a factor. Finally, dissolved oxygen and temperature trends were analyzed in each reservoir. While temperature profiles are similar throughout the year, seasonal drops in dissolved oxygen below survivable concentrations for D. bugensis has been observed in both Saguaro Lake and Bartlett Lake but not Lake Pleasant, representing the most plausible explanation for no observed infestation.

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Date Created
2015

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Aerosolization methods and UV inactivation of bacterial cells in air

Description

Since its first report in 1976, many outbreaks linked to Legionella have been reported in the world. These outbreaks are a public health concern because of legionellosis, which is found in two forms, Pontiac fever and Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires disease

Since its first report in 1976, many outbreaks linked to Legionella have been reported in the world. These outbreaks are a public health concern because of legionellosis, which is found in two forms, Pontiac fever and Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia responsible for the majority of the illness in the reported outbreaks of legionellosis. This study consists of an extensive literature review and experimental work on the aerosolization and UV inactivation of E.coli and Legionella under laboratory conditions. The literature review summarizes Legionella general information, occurrence, environmental conditions for its survival, transmission to human, collection and detection methodologies and Legionella disinfection in air and during water treatment processes.

E. coli was used as an surrogate for Legionella in experimentation due to their similar bacterial properties such as size, gram-negative rod-shaped, un-encapsulated and non-spore-forming bacterial cells. The accessibility and non-pathogenicity of E. coli also served as factors for the substitution.

Three methods of bacterial aerosolization were examined, these included an electric spray gun, an air spray gun and a hand-held spray bottle. A set of experiments were performed to examine E. coli aerosolization and transport in the aerosolization chamber (an air tight box) placed in a Biological Safety Cabinet. Spiked sample was sprayed through the opening from one side of the aerosolization chamber using the selected aerosolization methods. The air sampler was placed at the other side to collect 100 L air sample from the aerosolization chamber. A Tryptic Soy Agar plate was placed inside the air sampler to collect and subsequently culture E. coli cells from air. Results showed that the air spray gun has the best capability of aerosolizing bacteria cells under all the conditions examined in this study compared to the other two spray methods. In this study, we provide a practical and efficient method of bacterial aerosolization technique for microbial dispersion in air. The suggested method can be used in future research for microbial dispersion and transmission studies.

A set of experiments were performed to examine UV inactivation of E. coli and Legionella cells in air. Spiked samples were sprayed through the opening from one side of the aerosolization chamber using the air spray gun. A UV-C germicidal lamp inside the Biological Safety Cabinet was turned on after each spray. The air samples were collected as previously described. The application of UV-C for the inactivation of bacterial cells resulted in removing aerosolized E. coli and Legionella cells in air. A 1 log reduction was achieved with 5 seconds UV exposure time while 10 seconds UV exposure resulted in a 2 log bacterial reduction for both bacteria. This study shows the applicability of UV inactivation of pathogenic bacterial cells in air by short UV exposure time. This method may be applicable for the inactivation of Legionella in air ducts by installing germicidal UV lamps for protecting susceptible populations in certain indoor settings such as nursing homes or other community rooms.

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Date Created
2015