Emission of bacteria and fungi in the air from wastewater treatment plants - a review

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:393-407. doi: 10.2741/s159.


An increase in global population, coupled with intensive development of industry and agriculture, has resulted in the generation and accumulation of large amounts of waste around the world. The spread of pathogenic microorganisms, endotoxins, odours and dust particles in the air is an inevitable consequence of waste production and waste management. Thus, the risk of infections associated with wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) has become of a particular importance in recent decades. Sewage and unstable sludge contain various pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and human and animal parasites. These microorganisms can be transmitted to the ambient air in wastewater droplets, which are generated during aeration or mechanical moving of the sewage. Bioaerosols generated during wastewater treatment may therefore pose a potential health hazard to workers of these plants or to habitants of their surroundings. The degree of human exposure to airborne bacteria, fungi, endotoxin and other allergens may vary significantly depending upon the type and the capacity of a plant, kind of the facilities, performed activities and meteorological conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / analysis
  • Air Microbiology*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Bacteria*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Fungi*
  • Humans
  • Sewage / microbiology*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid*


  • Aerosols
  • Sewage