Response of bacteria in wastewater sludge to moisture loss by evaporation and effect of moisture content on bacterial inactivation by ionizing radiation.


Two studies were carried out to determine the influence of moisture content of the survival of bacteria in raw wastewater sludge. The first study involved the effect of water loss by evaporation on the bacterial population. The second used these dewatered samples to measure the effects of moisture content on the inactivation of bacteria sludge by ionizing radiation. Both studies involved survival measurements of six representative fecally associated bacteria grown separately in sterilized sludge as well as survival data on bacteria indigenous to sludge. Growth of bacteria was stimulated in sludge during the initial phase of moisture removal by evaporation, but the reduction of moisture content below about 50% by weight caused a proportional decrease in bacterial numbers. In comparison with the original sludge, this decrease reached about one-half to one order of magnitude in all dried samples except those containing Proteus mirabilis, which decreased about four orders of magnitude. The rates of inactivation of bacteria by ionizing radiation in sludge were usually modified to some degrees by variations in moisture content. Most bacteria were found to be somewhat protected from ionizing radiation at reduced moisture levels. The largest effect was found with Salmonella typhimurium, whose radiation resistance approximately doubled in dried sludge. However, no excessively large D10 values were found for any bacterial species tested.

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