Drinking water treatment processes for removal of Cryptosporidium and Giardia

Walter Q. Betancourt, Joan B. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

349 Scopus citations


Major waterborne cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis outbreaks associated with contaminated drinking water have been linked to evidence of suboptimal treatment. Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts are particularly more resistant than Giardia lamblia cysts to removal and inactivation by conventional water treatment (coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and chlorine disinfection); therefore, extensive research has been focused on the optimization of treatment processes and application of new technologies to reduce concentrations of viable/infectious oocysts to a level that prevents disease. The majority of the data on the performance of treatment processes to remove cysts and oocysts from drinking water have been obtained from pilot-tests, with a few studies performed in full-scale conventional water treatment plants. These studies have demonstrated that protozoan cyst removal throughout all stages of the conventional treatment is largely influenced by the effectiveness of coagulation pretreatment, which along with clarification constitutes the first treatment barrier against protozoan breakthrough. Physical removal of waterborne Crytosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts is ultimately achieved by properly functioning conventional filters, providing that effective pretreatment of the water is applied. Disinfection by chemical or physical methods is finally required to inactivate/remove the infectious life stages of these organisms. The effectiveness of conventional (chlorination) and alternative (chlorine dioxide, ozonation and ultra violet [UV] irradiation) disinfection procedures for inactivation of Cryptosporidium has been the focus of much research due to the recalcitrant nature of waterborne oocysts to disinfectants. This paper provides technical information on conventional and alternative drinking water treatment technologies for removal and inactivation of the protozoan parasites Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-234
Number of pages16
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2 SPEC.ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 9 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryptosporidium parvum
  • Drinking water treatment
  • Giardia lamblia
  • Inactivation
  • Removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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