A unified method to process biosolids samples for the recovery of bacterial, viral, and helminths pathogens

Absar Alum, Channah Rock, Morteza Abbaszadegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


For land application, biosolids are classified as Class A or Class B based on the levels of bacterial, viral, and helminths pathogens in residual biosolids. The current EPA methods for the detection of these groups of pathogens in biosolids include discrete steps. Therefore, a separate sample is processed independently to quantify the number of each group of the pathogens in biosolids. The aim of the study was to develop a unified method for simultaneous processing of a single biosolids sample to recover bacterial, viral, and helminths pathogens. At the first stage for developing a simultaneous method, nine eluents were compared for their efficiency to recover viruses from a 100 gm spiked biosolids sample. In the second stage, the three top performing eluents were thoroughly evaluated for the recovery of bacteria, viruses, and helminthes. For all three groups of pathogens, the glycine-based eluent provided higher recovery than the beef extract-based eluent. Additional experiments were performed to optimize performance of glycine-based eluent under various procedural factors such as, solids to eluent ratio, stir time, and centrifugation conditions. Last, the new method was directly compared with the EPA methods for the recovery of the three groups of pathogens spiked in duplicate samples of biosolids collected from different sources. For viruses, the new method yielded up to 10% higher recoveries than the EPA method. For bacteria and helminths, recoveries were 74% and 83% by the new method compared to 34% and 68% by the EPA method, respectively. The unified sample processing method significantly reduces the time required for processing biosolids samples for different groups of pathogens; it is less impacted by the intrinsic variability of samples, while providing higher yields (P = 0.05) and greater consistency than the current EPA methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-684
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 12 2014


  • Biosolids
  • bacteria
  • parasites
  • sample processing
  • viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering


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