Survival of thermotolerant coliforms in municipal biosolids after application in tropical soil cultivated with Eucalyptus

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The increasing production of biosolids in urban areas has been led to a search for alternative disposal avenues of this residue, which is rich in organic matter and nutrients. Agricultural land application of biosolids, motivated by its fertilizing power, is a widespread practice in many countries, but there are safety and regulatory concerns regarding the presence of pathogens in Class B biosolids. In addition, the scarcity of studies under tropical climate conditions raises questions that impede the agricultural use of this residue in some regions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the survival of thermotolerant coliforms over 12 months (52 weeks) after biosolids application on the surface of a Quartzipsamment neosol cultivated with Eucalyptus. Two different biosolids were studied: those generated by a biological treatment system with complete mixing aeration ponds followed by decantation ponds (Treatment A) and biosolids from a biological treatment system with conventional activated biosolids reactors (Treatment B), both delineated in randomized blocks with four replicates. After application on the forest soil, we estimated an average survival time of 54 weeks for thermotolerant coliforms present in Treatment A biosolids and 93 weeks in Treatment B biosolids. Thermotolerant coliforms persist much longer under tropical climate conditions in Brazil than in comparable studies under temperate climate conditions. This reaffirms the need to carry out studies covering the full range of moisture and temperature regimes in which biosolids are applied as fertilizer.




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Journal of Environmental Management, v. 274.

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