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Water Res. 2007 Jul;41(13):2893-902. Epub 2007 May 23.

The effects of temperature, pH, and ammonia concentration on the inactivation of Ascaris eggs in sewage sludge.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering #1710, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1710, USA.


The reported inactivation of Ascaris eggs during alkaline sludge stabilization is highly variable. The objective of our research was to better understand the sources of this variability by quantifying the effects of temperature, pH, and ammonia concentration on the inactivation of indigenous Ascaris eggs in wastewater sludge. Primary sludge was supplemented with ammonia (0, 1000, and 5000 mg/l NH(3)-N) and Ca(OH)(2) and incubated in sealed bottles across the range of temperatures (20, 30, 40, and 50 degrees C) and pH (7 and 12) that may be encountered during treatment. Changes in egg viability over time were fit to a two-parameter kinetic model (shoulder and first-order region); to compare treatment conditions, the time for 99% inactivation (t(99)) was also calculated. Each 10 degrees C increase in temperature caused a significant decrease in t(99) at every pH and ammonia concentration tested. At 50 degrees C, the effect of temperature was dominant, such that no effect of pH or ammonia was observed. At 30 and 40 degrees C, raising the pH from 7 to 12 decreased t(99), but at 20 degrees C no pH effect was seen over 80 d (very little inactivation occurred). At 20, 30, and 40 degrees C, the addition of ammonia dramatically decreased t(99). The effect of pH could not be completely separated from that of ammonia, as the unamended sludge samples contained 100-200mg/l indigenous ammonia. Because temperature, pH, and ammonia all contributed to Ascaris egg inactivation, it is essential that these parameters are measured and accounted for when assessing the effectiveness of alkaline stabilization. Furthermore, inactivation by ammonia could be exploited to improve the effectiveness of alkaline sludge stabilization.

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