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WASTEWATER SECURITY: CONTAMINANT PRIORITIZATION AND RAPID PCR METHODS FOR PATHOGEN DETECTION

Hardison, Catherine Adria (2007) WASTEWATER SECURITY: CONTAMINANT PRIORITIZATION AND RAPID PCR METHODS FOR PATHOGEN DETECTION. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    Since September 11, 2001, there has been a renewed focus on the security of vital infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment and collection systems. Terrorism, combined with the potential destruction in the wake of natural disasters, has led to an all hazards approach when evaluating contaminants that could be introduced into a wastewater treatment and collection system either accidentally or intentionally.Prioritization is an evaluation technique that can prove useful to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in providing a list of contaminants that would cause the most deleterious effects to the plant and its surrounding area. A framework was developed to focus on four endpoints that would be of the greatest concern to WWTPs. It was applied to 78 contaminants, including biological agents, flammable chemicals, radioactive elements and decontamination agents. Those contaminants having the highest weighted score for each endpoint were considered the greatest threat to the physical treatment plant and its unit processes, the plant's workers, and human and animal populations in contact with its receiving waters. The prioritization process can provide utilities with information on which contaminants should be screened for throughout the plant and collection system. One such method for biological agents, such as Bacillus anthracis, is real-time, rapid cycle polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This rapid analytical technique allows for preliminary detection of pathogen presence in a much shorter time than is required for bacteria culturing. PCR used jointly with a field concentration method greatly improved the sensitivity of the screening process, with a detection limit of 20 cfu/mL in concentrated secondary effluent, as compared to 3.50 x 103 cfu/mL in the unconcentrated sample. The detection limits of Salmonella typhimurium exceeded that expected from volume reduction with log recoveries of 3.53 and 2.24 compared to theoretical log recoveries of 2.40 and 2.10 for river water and secondary effluent, respectively. PCR cannot be applied for Brucella spp. screening due to cross-reactions with other bacteria present within the wastewater system, but for other pathogens, PCR may be a viable option for screening in treated and untreated wastewater.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairCasson, Leonardcasson@engr.pitt.edu
    Committee MemberNeufeld, Ronaldneufeld@engr.pitt.edu
    Committee MemberStates, Stanleysstates@pgh2o.com
    Title: WASTEWATER SECURITY: CONTAMINANT PRIORITIZATION AND RAPID PCR METHODS FOR PATHOGEN DETECTION
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: Since September 11, 2001, there has been a renewed focus on the security of vital infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment and collection systems. Terrorism, combined with the potential destruction in the wake of natural disasters, has led to an all hazards approach when evaluating contaminants that could be introduced into a wastewater treatment and collection system either accidentally or intentionally.Prioritization is an evaluation technique that can prove useful to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in providing a list of contaminants that would cause the most deleterious effects to the plant and its surrounding area. A framework was developed to focus on four endpoints that would be of the greatest concern to WWTPs. It was applied to 78 contaminants, including biological agents, flammable chemicals, radioactive elements and decontamination agents. Those contaminants having the highest weighted score for each endpoint were considered the greatest threat to the physical treatment plant and its unit processes, the plant's workers, and human and animal populations in contact with its receiving waters. The prioritization process can provide utilities with information on which contaminants should be screened for throughout the plant and collection system. One such method for biological agents, such as Bacillus anthracis, is real-time, rapid cycle polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This rapid analytical technique allows for preliminary detection of pathogen presence in a much shorter time than is required for bacteria culturing. PCR used jointly with a field concentration method greatly improved the sensitivity of the screening process, with a detection limit of 20 cfu/mL in concentrated secondary effluent, as compared to 3.50 x 103 cfu/mL in the unconcentrated sample. The detection limits of Salmonella typhimurium exceeded that expected from volume reduction with log recoveries of 3.53 and 2.24 compared to theoretical log recoveries of 2.40 and 2.10 for river water and secondary effluent, respectively. PCR cannot be applied for Brucella spp. screening due to cross-reactions with other bacteria present within the wastewater system, but for other pathogens, PCR may be a viable option for screening in treated and untreated wastewater.
    Date: 12 June 2007
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 28 March 2007
    Approval Date: 12 June 2007
    Submission Date: 06 April 2007
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: MSCE - Master of Science in Civil Engineering
    URN: etd-04062007-104825
    Uncontrolled Keywords: PCR; prioritization; wastewater security
    Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:34
    Last Modified: 20 Apr 2012 10:59
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-04062007-104825/, etd-04062007-104825

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