Transport of microsporidium Encephalitozoon intestinales spores in sandy porous media

M. L. Brusseau, J. K. Oleen, J. Santamaria, L. Cheng, P. Orosz-Coghlan, A. S. Chetochine, W. J. Blanford, P. Rykwalder, C. P. Gerba

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11 Scopus citations


The retention and transport of microsporidium Encephalitozoon intestinales spores in two water-saturated sandy porous media was investigated in this study. The initial breakthrough of the spores in the column effluent occurred essentially simultaneously with that of a non-reactive tracer, indicating no significant velocity enhancement. A large fraction (45-73%) of the spores injected into the columns was not recovered in the effluent, indicating removal from solution through colloid retention processes of attachment and/or straining. The relative significance of attachment and straining to total retention was evaluated in additional experiments. An experiment was conducted with a sieved coarse fraction of porous media for which straining is unlikely to be of significance based on the relative diameters of the spores and porous-medium pores. The spore recovery for this experiment was similar to the recoveries obtained for microsporidia transport in the un-sieved parent porous medium. An additional experiment was conducted with a subsample of the coarse fraction that was acid-washed to reduce potential surface attachment sites. Spore recovery was complete for this experiment. These results suggest surface deposition was the primary removal mechanism in our system. This conclusion is supported by the results of an experiment wherein deionized water was flushed through a column that was previously flushed with electrolyte solution. The effluent spore concentrations were observed to increase upon injection of deionized water, indicating re-mobilization of spores upon a change in water chemistry. The measured data were successfully simulated using a mathematical model incorporating colloid filtration. The results of this study suggest that the transport of microspordia in sandy porous media is governed by established colloid-transport processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3636-3642
Number of pages7
JournalWater research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Pathogens
  • Protozoa
  • Transport
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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