Transport of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in sandy soil: Impact of length scale

Johanna Santamaría, Maria De J. Quinonez-Diaz, Luke Lemond, Robert G. Arnold, David Quanrud, Charles Gerba, Mark L. Brusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of length scale (travel distance) on the retention and transport of Cryptosporidium oocysts in a sandy soil. Long columns (1 and 2 meters) and an in situ lysimeter (4 m) were used to allow investigation of larger-scale transport under controlled conditions. Significant retention of oocysts was observed, with the magnitude of removal from solution ranging between 2 to 5 logs. While the removal was greater for longer travel distances (or residence times), the increase was not log-linear. This observation indicates that oocyst transport was not consistent with standard colloid filtration theory. The observed behavior is speculated to arise, at least in part, from intrapopulation variability in oocyst properties. The results of this study indicate that while Cryptosporidium oocysts may be expected to experience significant retention and removal during transport in sandy soil, the magnitude of retention may be less than that which would be predicted by applying standard colloid filtration theory to the results of typical short-column experiments. Thus, a fraction of the oocysts may be more mobile than anticipated and thereby pose a greater than expected risk to groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3481-3484
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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