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. 2001 Jun;55(6):23-5.

Reviewing Efficacy of Alternative Water Treatment Techniques

  • PMID: 11447890

Reviewing Efficacy of Alternative Water Treatment Techniques

A Hambidge. Health Estate. .


This section is designed to provide a brief summary of some of the findings. A good deal of work has been conducted by Mr N. L. Pavey and the team at BSRIA, Bracknell. The BSRIA publications are an excellent source of further information. Ultraviolet radiation: UV radiation of wavelength 254 nm destroys bacteria by a mechanism of damaging nucleic acids by producing thymine dimers which disrupt DNA replication [Gavdy and Gavdy, 1980]. L. pneumophila has been reported as sensitive to UV dosages of 2,500-7,000 uW.s/cm2 [Antopol & Ellner, 1979; Knudson, 1985]. Antopol and Ellner [1979] examined the susceptibility of L. pneumophila to UV dosage. Their results indicated that 50% of the organisms were killed by 380 uWs/cm2 and 90% were killed by 920 uWs/cm2. Kills of 99 and 99.9% were obtained using 1,840 and 2,760 uWs/cm2 respectively. Muraca et al [1987] showed that continuous UV irradiation resulted in a 5 logarithm decrease in waterborne L. pneumophila in a circulating system. Gilpin [1984] reported that in laboratory buffer solutions, exposure to 1 uW of UV radiation per cm2 achieved a 50% kill of L longbeachae in 5 minutes, L. gormanii in 2-30 minutes and L pneumophila in 17 minutes. Exposure times for 99% kills for L. longbeachae, L pneumophila and L. Gormanii were 33, 48 and 63 minutes respectively. The same research worker conducted experiments using a 3 litre circulating water system, connected to a stainless steel housing containing a UV source. The UV lamp output was 7 ergs/mm2 per second per 100 cm at 254 nm. L. pneumophila was killed within 15 seconds, that is within their first pass through the system. Continuous disinfection with UV has the advantages of imparting no taste, odour or harmful chemical by-products and requires minimal operation and maintenance [Muraca et al 1988]. Keevil et al [1989] state that UV irradiation fails to clear systems of biofilm because of poor penetration into microflocs of the micro-organisms. Copper/silver ionisation: A recent study of full scale hot water test rigs incorporating copper-silver ionisation systems has been reported by Pavey, 1996. Copper and silver ions were introduced into the water by electrolysis. One of the principal mechanisms of biocidal action of these ions is thought to be cell penetration. The positively charged copper ions form electrostatic bonds with negatively charged sites on the cell wall. The cell membrane is thus distorted, allowing ingress of silver ions which attack the cell by binding at specific sites to DNA, RNA, respiratory enzymes and cellular protein, causing catastrophic failure of the life support systems of the cell. Silver and copper ion concentrations of 40 and 400 ug/L respectively were effective against planktonic Legionellae in cold water systems and hot water systems containing soft water. In hard water, the ionisation was ineffective due to the inability to control silver ion concentrations. This was caused by scaling of the electrodes and silver ion complexation by the high concentration of dissolved solids. Bosch et al [1993] had earlier extended the application of copper-silver disinfection to human enteric viruses in water, such as adenovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A virus, and poliovirus. Their work showed that copper and silver ions in the presence of reduced levels of free chlorine did not ensure the total elimination of viral pathogens from water. In the case of an amoeba, Naegleria fowleria [responsible for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis], Cassells et al [1995] have demonstrated that a combination of silver and copper ions were ineffective at inactivating the amoebae at 80 and 800 ug/L respectively. However addition of 1.0 mg/L free chlorine produced a synergistic effect, with superior inactivation relative to either chlorine or silver-copper in isolation. A similar synergy was reported by Yahya et al [1989] in their study of Staphylococcus sp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Yahya et al [1992] also suggested an additive or synergistic effect in the inactivation of coliphage MS-2 and poliovirus. Other techniques: There are a number of other techniques. We have conducted trials of most of these in the control of Legionella sp., but these fall out of the scope of this article, and as such less emphasis has been placed on them here. Ozonation: Ozone [O3] is an oxidising gas, generated electrically from oxygen [O2]. L. pneumophila can be killed at < 1 mg/L of ozone [Edelstien et al 1982]. Muraca et al [1987] found that 1-2 mg/L of continuous ozone over a six hour contact time, produced a 5 logarithm decrease of L. pneumophila. The effectiveness of ozone treatment against a range of bacteria and coliphages has been studied Botzenhart et al [1993]. E. coli was least resistant to ozone, followed by MS 2-coliphage and PhiX 174-coliphage, with L. pneumophila and Bacillus subtilis spores being the most resistant. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

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