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

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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

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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  • 2015