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Microbial Pathogens in Municipal Waste Detection, Characterization, Treatment and Risk

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Biosolids are a byproduct from municipal sewage treatment that may be used as an organic soil conditioner and fertilizer after treatment to reduce pathogens. In 2002, the National Research Council reviewed Part 503 of the Clean Water Act related to sludge regulations. They concluded that there was a lack of exposure and health information on populations exposed to biosolids and identified the need for better data, methods, and tools to assess the potential health risks associated with exposure to biosolid contaminants.

Reflecting on EPA's continued commitment to the development of sound regulations, EPA published an Action Plan in the Federal Register (December 31, 2003) that listed potential projects that EPA would pursue. One of the projects described was to assess the quality and utility of data, tools and methodologies to conduct microbial risk assessments on pathogens.

Stressors are chemical, physical, or biological agents that may adversely affect human health or other assessment endpoints. The description of stressors is a necessary precursor to developing conceptual models, especially for risk assessments of a complex substance like biosolids.

Biosolids are a complex mixture that contains organic and inorganic compounds and organisms from wastewaters of households, commercial and industrial facilities, as well as compounds added or formed during wastewater treatment processes. Do biosolids serve as a point source of hazardous microbes, or has the material been applied over a large area that serves as a more diffuse source?

This presentation focuses on pathogens and descriptions of microorganisms in biosolids. EPA will describe activities related to developing microbial risk assessment options.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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