IWA Publishing

Occurrence and fate of Ascaris lumbricoides ova in biosolids in Victoria, Australia: a human health risk assessment of biosolids storage periods

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Reuse of sewage biosolids in Victoria, Australia, typically involves mesophilic anaerobic digestion followed by air-drying and long-term storage to ensure removal of ova of soil-transmitted helminths (STH) such as Ascaris lumbricoides. Long-term storage degrades the biosolids' agronomic quality due to the loss of key plant nutrients and takes up large areas of storage space. The impact of varying biosolids holding times and other processes on STH using Ascaris as the reference STH pathogen was examined in this study using a quantitative risk analysis approach. Risk modelling of the potential human health impacts from the presence of Ascaris ova in biosolids was undertaken for discrete holding periods of 1, 2 and 3 years. Modelling showed that to meet the WHO 1 μDALY·person−1·year−1 disease burdens guideline for limiting exposure category, a biosolids storage period of 1.24 years or 2.1 years would be required, depending on the data source of ova shedding rates per worm (Bangladesh or Nigeria, respectively). The soil exposure and salad/root vegetable consumption models included a number of variables with moderate to high degrees of uncertainty. Monte Carlo simulation was used to assess the effect of uncertainty in model input variables and to assist in highlighting areas for further research.

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