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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2003 Mar;206(2):117-22.

Parasite contamination (helminth eggs) in sludge treatment plants: definition of a sampling strategy.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Physique et Microbiologie pour l'Environnement, Faculté de Pharmacie, Nancy, France.


The use of sludge in agriculture must be carried out according to many guidelines, especially regarding a precise knowledge of the pathogenic microorganisms it contains. The control of the produced sludge requires a sampling strategy that is representative of the contamination present in the sludge. Thus, we evaluated the distribution of helminth eggs in sludge to determine how to sample and at what frequency. Two plants were studied, firstly we studied sludge that was undergoing biological treatment (anaerobic digestion, prolonged aeration), secondly we evaluated the dehydration step (centrifugation and filter press). The helminth egg concentrations were measured over short periods (between 5 minutes and 7 hours) and for periods of over 24 hours (7 to 28 days). The results showed that there was much homogeneity in periods of less than 7 hours, thus it was advisable to take grab samples. An appropriate sample weight was 30 g dry matter, because this allowed an analysis in triplicate when testing treatment processes according to standards of France, (less than 3 viable eggs/10 g dry matter). Determination of the egg concentration in the plants during periods of over 24 hours showed that the parasite flow was stable. In some cases, large variations were due to the treatment processes (storage or thickening, mixing of different sludges). These results have been confirmed with the study of 6 other plants during a one year period. Thus, the recommended sampling frequency can be limited to every 3 to 6 months, by adapting the sampling methods to the characteristics of the plant.

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