Chemical and microbial characterization of household graywater

L. M. Casanova, Charles P. Gerba, Martin Karpiscak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


In arid areas, the search for efficient methods to conserve water is of paramount importance. One of the methods of water conservation available today is graywater recycling - the reuse of water from the sinks, showers, washing machine, and dishwasher in a home. The purpose of this project was to characterize the chemical and microbial quality of graywater from a single-family home with two adults. Water samples from a graywater holding tank were analyzed over a seven-month period for total coliforms, fecal coliforms, fecal streptococci, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), and coliphages. The pH, turbidity, biological oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids (SS), electrical conductivity (EC), sulfates (SO4), and chlorides (Cl) were also measured. The mean numbers of total coliforms, fecal coliforms, fecal streptococci, and P. aeruginosa were 8.03 × 107, 5.63 × 105, 2.38 × 102, and 1.99 × 104 CFU/100 mL, respectively. S. aureus and coliphages were not detected. In the chemical analysis, mean values of 7.47 for pH, 43 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) for turbidity, 64.85 mg/L for BOD, 35.09 mg/L for SS, 0.43 mS/cm for EC, 59.59 mg/L for SO4, and 20.54 mg/L for Cl were measured. These data were compared to data taken in 1986 and 1987, when two adults and one child lived in the household. Analysis showed no statistically significant difference in levels of total coliforms and suspended solids between the two data sets. There were statistically significant differences in levels of fecal coliforms, pH, turbidity, chlorides, sulfates, and BOD between the two households. Fecal coliforms, turbidity, and BOD were higher in the household with two adults and one child. Levels of Cl, SO4, and pH were higher in the household with two adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Coliforms
  • Graywater
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering


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