Septic tank additive impacts on microbial populations

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Environmental health specialists, other onsite wastewater professionals, scientists, and homeowners have questioned the effectiveness of septic tank additives. This paper describes an independent, third-party, field scale, research study of the effects of three liquid bacterial septic tank additives and a control (no additive) on septic tank microbial populations. Microbial populations were measured quarterly in a field study for 12 months in 48 full-size, functioning septic tanks. Bacterial populations in the 48 septic tanks were statistically analyzed with a mixed linear model. Additive effects were assessed for three septic tank maintenance levels (low, intermediate, and high). Dunnett’s t-test for tank bacteria (α = .05) indicated that none of the treatments were significantly different, overall, from the control at the statistical level tested. In addition, the additives had no significant effects on septic tank bacterial populations at any of the septic tank maintenance levels. Additional controlled, field-based research is warranted, however, to address additional additives and experimental conditions.

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