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Removal of airborne microorganisms emitted from a wastewater treatment oxidation ditch by adsorption on activated carbon

Keywords: activated carbon,adsorption,airborne microorganisms,oxidation ditch,wastewater treatment facility

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Abstract:

Bioaerosol emissions from wastewater and wastewater treatment processes are a significant subgroup of atmospheric aerosols. Most previous work has focused on the evaluation of their biological risks. In this study, however, the adsorption method was applied to reduce airborne microorganisms generated from a pilot scale wastewater treatment facility with oxidation ditch. Results showed adsorption on granule activated carbon (GAC) was an efficient method for the purification of airborne microorganisms. The GAC itself had a maximum adsorption capacity of 2217 CFU/g for airborne bacteria and 225 CFU/g for fungi with a flow rate of 1.50 m3/hr. Over 85% of airborne bacteria and fungi emitted from the oxidation ditch were adsorbed within 80 hr of continuous operation mode. Most of them had a particle size of 0.65-4.7 μm. Those airborne microorganisms with small particle size were apt to be adsorbed. The SEM/EDAX,BET and Boehm's titration methods were applied to analyse the physicochemical characteristics of the GAC. Relationships between GAC surface characteristics and its adsorption performance demonstrated that porous structure, large smrface area, and hydrophobicity rendered GAC an effective absorber of airborne microorganisms. Two regenerate methods, ultraviolet irradiation and high pressure vapor, were compared for the regeneration of used activated carbon. High pressure vapor was an effective technique as it totally destroyed the microorganisms adhered to the activated carbon. Microscopic observation was also carried out to investigate original and used adsorbents.

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