Assessment of microbial parameters as indicators of viral contamination of aerosol from urban sewage treatment plants

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In order to evaluate possible indicators of viral aerosol contamination in sewage treatment plants, a year-long study was carried out on the relationships between the presence of cytopathogenic viruses and the counts of total bacteria, faecal streptococci and somatic coliphages in samples collected at various distances from the aerosol source (aeration tank). The activated sludge plant studied proved to be a significant source of microbe-bearing aerosol with high levels of viral contamination. When the virus was found in sewage, it was also found in the air, at least in the sites closest to the aeration tank. With regard to the possibility of using the chosen parameters as markers of viral contamination, the total bacteria and faecal streptococci counts were generally positively correlated with viral presence, while coliphage counts yielded no analogous relationship.

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