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Water Res. 2001 Jun;35(9):2207-18.

The ecology of "fecal indicator" bacteria commonly found in pulp and paper mill water systems.

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Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (Paprican), Pointe-Claire, QC.


Coliform bacteria have long been used to indicate fecal contamination of water and thus a health hazard. In this study, the in-mill water and external effluent treatment systems of seven typical Canadian pulp and paper mills were all shown to support the growth of numerous coliforms, especially Klebsiella Spp., Escherichia coli. Enterobacter spp., and Citrobacter spp. In all mills and most sampled locations, klebsiellas were the predominant coliforms. Although all but one of the mills had no sewage input and most disinfected their feed (input) water, all contained the most typical fecal indicator bacterium, E. coli. Many of the mill coliforms were classified as fecal coliforms by standard "MPN" and metabolic tests, but this was shown to be due to their thermotolerance, not their origin. Mill coliforms were shown not to be just simple transients from feedwater or furnish (wood), but to be continuously growing, especially in some of the primary clarifiers. Isolated mill coliforms grew very well on a sterilized raw combined mill effluent. The fecal streptococci (enterococci), alternative indicators of fecal health hazards, were common in all mills in the absence of sewage. Ten strains of E. coli isolated from four mills were all shown to be non-toxigenic strains of harmless serotypes. No salmonellas were found. Therefore, the use of total coliform, fecal coliform, enterococci, or E. coli counts as indicators of fecal contamination, and thus of health hazard in pulp and paper mill effluents or biosolids (sludges) known to be free of fecal input is invalid.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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