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J Environ Monit. 2001 Oct;3(5):548-51.

Destruction of helminth eggs by photosensitized porphyrin.

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Laboratory of Wastewater Parasites, National Institute for Research on Agricultural Engineering, Water and Forestry, B.P. 10, Ariana, 2080 Tunis, Tunisia.


Tunisian untreated wastewater exhibits an average of 30 human helminth eggs per litre. After treatment, the concentration decreases to one egg per litre, or more in some cases. The percentage removal cited for wastewater processes provides no real indication of the destruction of the organisms, but merely of their transfer to another medium. In this study, we report the use of an environmentally friendly photoactive compound for wastewater disinfection. Photosensitization involves the generation of very toxic short-lived species on absorption of light by porphyrin. Microorganism photosensitization is potentially useful for sterilization and for the treatment of certain bacterial diseases. Gram-positive bacteria can be photoinactivated by a range of photosensitizers, but Gram-negative bacteria are not usually susceptible to photosensitized destruction. Our findings clearly demonstrate that the cationic meso-substituted porphyrin, tetra-(4-N-methylpyridyl) porphin tetra-tosylate (T4MPYP), is an efficient photosensitizer of helminth eggs on visible light illumination. The microscopic observation of helminth eggs shows that many types of ultrastructural alterations are potentially associated with exposure to T4MPYP and an adequate intensity of light: morphological changes without breakage; small alterations of eggshells; complete destruction. The degree of egg alteration increases with both increasing T4MPYP concentration and irradiation time. Moreover, the dissolved oxygen concentration, water quality and the type of eggs can influence the sensitivity of helminth eggs to photosensitization. Indeed, suspended solids (turbidity) were the most influential solution parameter on the efficiency of the photochemical process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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