Dispersion of Legionella-containing aerosols from a biological treatment plant, Norway

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3:1300-9. doi: 10.2741/e333.


Legionella was detected in aeration ponds (biological treatment plant) at Borregaard Ind. Ltd., Norway, and in air samples harvested directly above these ponds. Since 2005, three outbreaks of legionellosis occurred within a 10 km radius from this plant. This work addresses the dispersion patterns of Legionella-containing particles by characterizing the aerosol plume emitted from these ponds (outbreak source) less than 500 meters using wind-tunnel measurements, CFD simulations, and real-life measurements. The most abundant particles directly over the ponds were less than 6 and more than 15 microm. The results showed that the aerosol plume remained narrow; 180 meters wide at 350 meters downwind of the ponds, and that 2 and 18 microm aerosols were mainly deposited in the vicinity of the ponds ( 150 - 200 meters). Furthermore, the maximum aerosol concentration level appeared 5-10 meters above ground level and the maximum concentration 500 meters downwind was approximately 2 per cent of the concentration level directly above the ponds. Our study demonstrates the strength of combining modeling with real-life aerosol analyses increasing the understanding of dispersion of airborne (pathogenic) microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols*
  • Climate
  • Legionella / isolation & purification*
  • Norway
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols