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Characterization and Proinflammatory Response of Airborne Biological Particles from Wastewater Treatment Plants

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2011, 00:00 by S. Gangamma, R. S. Patil, S. Mukherji
Wastewater contains a variety of microorganisms, and unit operations in the plants could release these biological components into the air environment. These airborne biological particles could have adverse health effects on plant workers and the downwind population. This study provides a first report on the concentration and characterization of the airborne biological particles in six wastewater treatment plants in Mumbai, India. The study indicates that 49% and 27% of the samples exceed, respectively, the exposure limit for airborne endotoxin and bacteria in occupational settings. Endotoxin was identified as the single most important component of the particulate matter responsible for induction of proinflammatory indicator (tumor necrosis factor-α) in in vitro assay. Identification of several clinically important bacterial species in the samples suggests that the workers at the treatment plant are exposed to opportunistic and infectious bacteria. Principal component analysis was used to identify the groups among the bacterial species which serves as the signature for transport study. Analysis also shows that the component related to spore-forming bacteria is present in all samples.