Tzu-Hsien Lin1,2, Chow-Feng Chiang3, Shaw-Tao Lin4, Ching-Tsan Tsai 5

  • 1 Department of Dental Hygiene, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
  • 2 Department of Occupational Safety and Health, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
  • 3 Department of Health Risk Management, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
  • 4 Department of Applied Chemistry, Providence University, Taichung 43301, Taiwan
  • 5 Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan

Received: April 13, 2015
Revised: July 16, 2015
Accepted: January 31, 2016
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Cite this article:
Lin, T.H., Chiang, C.F., Lin, S.T. and Tsai, C.T. (2016). Effects of Small-Size Suspended Solids on the Emission of Escherichia coli from the Aeration Process of Wastewater Treatment. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 16: 2208-2215.


  • Type of suspended solid could affect the emission of bioaerosols in WWTPs.
  • Floc-type activated sludge inhibits emission of E. coli from the aeration tank.
  • Non-floc small-size kaolin clay strengthens emissions of E. coli from pretreatments.



The concentrations of bioaerosols near pretreatment facilities are often higher than those near activated-sludge aeration tanks in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). The reason for this difference is not yet clear and the differences between the characteristics of suspended solids (SS) in these two processes might play a critical role. In this study, a lab-scale wastewater treatment system was tested with Escherichia coli (E. coli) in order to investigate the effects of the type and concentration of SS on the concentration and size distribution of emitted bioaerosols. Two types of SS, activated sludge from a hospital WWTP and kaolin clay, were selected to represent floc-type mixed-liquor SS (MLSS) and non-floc-type SS, respectively. An Andersen six-stage sampler was used to analyze the size distribution of the airborne E. coli aerosols. When the tested aeration rate was as low as 0.5 L min–1, it was found that the presence of bioaerosols slightly decreased in air/water ratio (AWR, CFU m–3 air/CFU 100 mL–1 water) when the SS increased from 500 to 2000 mg L–1 for both floc and non-floc SS. However when the aeration rates went up to 5–15 L min–1, the pattern of AWR vs. SS curve was different with an increase trend for non-floc SS and a decrease trend for floc SS, with an exception of increase trend for floc SS as the MLSS increased from 0 to 500 mg L–1. The major sizes of emitted bioaerosols ranged from 0.65 to 1.1 µm. A peak was observed at an aerodynamic diameter greater than 7 µm when the aeration rate was 15 L min–1. In conclusion, floc-type activated sludge can inhibit the emission of E. coli from an aeration tank. In contrast, the non-floc-type small-size kaolin clay can enhance the emission of E. coli from the pretreatment process.

Keywords: Bioaerosols; Suspended solids; Wastewater treatment plant; E. coli

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