Pathogen and Particle Associations in Wastewater: Significance and Implications for Treatment and Disinfection Processes

Charndeep Chahal, Ben Van Den Akker, Fiona Young, Christopher Franco, J. Blackbeard, Paul Monis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    127 Citations (Scopus)


    Disinfection guidelines exist for pathogen inactivation in potable water and recycled water, but wastewater with high numbers of particles can be more difficult to disinfect, making compliance with the guidelines problematic. Disinfection guidelines specify that drinking water with turbidity ≥1 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU) is not suitable for disinfection and therefore not fit for purpose. Treated wastewater typically has higher concentrations of particles (1–10 NTU for secondary treated effluent). Two processes widely used for disinfecting wastewater are chlorination and ultraviolet radiation. In both cases, particles in wastewater can interfere with disinfection and can significantly increase treatment costs by increasing operational expenditure (chemical demand, power consumption) or infrastructure costs by requiring additional treatment processes to achieve the required levels of pathogen inactivation. Many microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoans) associate with particles, which can allow them to survive disinfection processes and cause a health hazard. Improved understanding of this association will enable development of cost-effective treatment, which will become increasingly important as indirect and direct potable reuse of wastewater becomes more widespread in both developed and developing countries. This review provides an overview of wastewater and associated treatment processes, the pathogens in wastewater, the nature of particles in wastewater and how they interact with pathogens, and how particles can impact disinfection processes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-119
    Number of pages57
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Disinfection
    • Particles
    • Pathogens
    • Reuse
    • Treatment
    • Wastewater


    Dive into the research topics of 'Pathogen and Particle Associations in Wastewater: Significance and Implications for Treatment and Disinfection Processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this