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Biological risks of bioaerosols emitted from wastewater treatment processes have attracted wide attention in the recent years. However, the culture-based analysis method has been mostly adopted for detecting the bacterial community in bioaerosols, which may result in the underestimation of total microorganism concentration as not all microorganisms are cultivable. In this study, oligonucleotide fingerprinting of 16S rRNA genes was applied to reveal the composition and structure of the bacterial community in bioaerosols from an Orbal oxidation ditch in a Beijing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Bioaerosols were collected at different distances from the aerosol source, rotating brushes, and the sampling height was 1.5 in which is the common respiratory height of a human being. The bacterial communities of bioaerosols were diverse, and the lowest bacterial diversity was found at the sampling site just after the rotating brush rotating brush. A large proportion of bacteria in bioaerosols were affiliated with Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Numerous bacteria present in the bioaerosols also emerged in water, indicating that the bacterial community in the bioaerosols was related to that of the aerosols' sources. The forced aeration of rotating brushes brought about observably distinct bacterial communities between sampling sites situated before and after the rotating brush. Isolation sources of closest relatives in bioaerosols clone libraries were associated with the aqueous environment in the WWTP. Common potential pathogens in bioaerosols as well as those not reported in previous research were also analyzed in this study. Measures should be adopted to reduce the emission of bioaerosols and prevent their exposure to workers.


Yunping Han, Lin Li, Junxin Liu. Characterization of the airborne bacteria community at different distances from the rotating brushes in a wastewater treatment plant by 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. Journal of environmental sciences (China). 2013 Jan 1;25(1):5-15

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PMID: 23586294

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