Online monitoring of Escherichia coli and Bacillus thuringiensis spore inactivation after advanced oxidation treatment

Samendra P. Sherchan, Shane A. Snyder, Charles P. Gerba, Ian L. Pepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Various studies have shown that advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) such as UV light in combination with hydrogen peroxide is an efficient process for the removal of a large variety of emerging contaminants including microorganisms. The mechanism of destruction in the presence of hydrogen peroxide (H 2O2) is the enhanced formation of hydroxyl (·OH) radicals, which have a high oxidation potential. The goal of this study was to utilize in-line advanced oxidation to inactivate microbes, and document the inactivation via an in-line, real-time sensor. Escherichia coli cells and Bacillus thuringiensis spores were exposed to UV/H2O2 treatment in DI water, and the online sensor BioSentry® was evaluated for its potential to monitor inactivation in real-time. B. thuringiensis was selected as a non-pathogenic surrogate for B. anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax and a proven biological weapon. UV radiation and UV/H2O2 exposure resulted in a >6 log10 reduction of the viable culturable counts of E. coli vegetative cells, and a 3 log10 reduction of B. thuringiensis spores. Scanning electron microscopy of the treated samples revealed severe damage on the surface of most E. coli cells, yet there was no significant change observed in the morphology of the B. thuringiensis spores. Following AOP exposure, the BioSentry sensor showed an increase in the categories of unknown, rod and spores counts, but overall, did not correspond well with viable count assays. Data from this study show that advanced oxidation processes effectively inactivate E. coli vegetative cells, but not B. thuringiensis spores, which were more resistant to AOP. Further, the BioSentry in-line sensor was not successful in documenting destruction of the microbial cells in real-time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-939
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 7 2014


  • Advanced oxidation
  • Bacillus spores
  • Drinking water
  • E. coli
  • Online monitoring
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering


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