Land application of manure and class B biosolids: An occupational and public quantitative microbial risk assessment

John P. Brooks, Michael R. McLaughlin, Charles P. Gerba, Ian L. Pepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Land application is a practical use of municipal Class B biosolids and manure that also promotes soil fertility and productivity. To date, no study exists comparing biosolids to manure microbial risks. Th is study used quantitative microbial risk assessment to estimate pathogen risks from occupational and public exposures during scenarios involving fomite, soil, crop, and aerosol exposures. Greatest one-time risks were from direct consumption of contaminated soil or exposure to fomites, with one-time risks greater than 10-1.Recent contamination and high exposures doses increased most risks. Campylobacter jejuni and enteric viruses provided the greatest single risks for most scenarios, particularly in the short term. All pathogen risks were decreased with time, 1 d to14 mo between land application and exposure; decreases in risk were typically over six orders of magnitude beyond 30 d. Nearly all risks were reduced to below 10-4 when using a 4-mo harvest delay for crop consumption. Occupational, more direct risks were greater than indirect public risks, which oft en occur aft er time and dilution have reduced pathogen loads to tolerablelevels. Comparison of risks by pathogen group confirmed greater bacterial risks from manure, whereas viral risks were exclusive to biosolids. A direct comparison of the two residual types showed that biosolids use had greater risk because of the high infectivity of viruses, whereas the presence of environmentally recalcitrant pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and Listeria maintained manure risk. Direct comparisons of shared pathogens resulted in greater manure risks. Overall, it appears thatin the short term, risks were high for both types of residuals, but given treatment, attenuation, and dilution, risks can be reduced to nearinsignificant levels Thatbeing said, limited data sets, dose exposures, site-specific inactivation rates, pathogen spikes, environmental change, regrowth, and wildlife will increase risk anduncertainty and remain areas poorly understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2009-2023
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Land application of manure and class B biosolids: An occupational and public quantitative microbial risk assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this