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Water Res. 2011 Oct 1;45(15):4651-60. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2011.06.017. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Sedimentation of helminth eggs in water.

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Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Groennegaardsvej 15, 2, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


Helminth parasite eggs in low quality water represent health risks when used for irrigation of crops. The settling velocities of helminth eggs (Ascaris suum, Trichuris suis, and Oesophagostomum spp.) and wastewater particles were experimentally determined in tap water and in wastewater using Owen tubes. The settling velocities of eggs in tap water was compared with theoretical settling velocities calculated by Stoke's law using measurements of size and density of eggs as well as density and viscosity of tap water. The mean settling velocity in tap water of 0.0612 mm s(-1) found for A. suum eggs was significantly lower than the corresponding values of 0.1487 mm s(-1) for T. suis and 0.1262 mm s(-1) for Oesophagostomum spp. eggs. For T. suis and Oesophagostomum spp. eggs the theoretical settling velocities were comparable with the observed velocities in the Owen tubes, while it was three times higher for A. suum eggs. In wastewater, the mean settling velocity for A. suum eggs (0.1582 mm s(-1)) was found to be different from T. suis (0.0870 mm s(-1)), Oesophagostomum spp. (0.1051 mm s(-1)), and wastewater particles (0.0474 mm s(-1)). This strongly indicates that in low quality water the eggs are incorporated into particle flocs with different settling velocities and that the settling velocity of eggs and particles is closely associated. Our results document that there is a need to differentiate the sedimentation of different types of helminth eggs when assessing the quality of low quality water, e.g. for irrigation usage. The results can also be used to improve existing models for helminth egg removal.

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