Effects of spring season solar drying process on sanitation indicators in sewage sludge and potential as a method for fertilizer production

Anna Ligocka 1,  
Department of Microbiology, University of Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland
Department of Microbiology, University of Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland; Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Collegium Medicum of L. Rydygier in Bydgoszcz, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(1):8–12
The agricultural use of sewage sludge is possible on condition of maintaining microbiological and parasitological standards, and one of the most modern methods improving its sanitary state is solar drying. In the presented study, the effect of this process on the elimination of indicator microorganisms ([i]Escherichia coli, Salmonell[/i]a Senftenberg W[sub]775[/sub], [i]Enterococcus[/i] spp.) and eggs of [i]Ascaris suum[/i] introduced into the biomass of sludge was examined. The experiment was carried out in the spring period with a maximal temperature of 18 °C inside the drying plant. Bacteria and parasite eggs were introduced into special carriers (cylinders filled with sewage sludge) and placed at selected points of the drier. The carriers were removed every 7 days and subject to a research procedure in order to estimate the number of bacteria and percentage of live eggs of [i]Ascaris suum[/i]. Sanitization of the material was not obtained, since after 28 days of the process the final product contained a large concentration of [i]Enterococcus[/i] spp. and S. Senftenberg W[sub]775[/sub] (10[sup]5[/sup] -10[sup]9[/sup] MPNg[sup]-1[/sup]). Only the number of [i]E. coli[/i] decreased by 6 log. During the process, the fastest decrease in the number of bacteria was observed in [i]E. coli[/i] (ca 0.2 log/day), slower in enterococci (0.02-0.081 log/day), and the slowest in bacilli of the genus Salmonella (0.011-0.061 log/day). Sludge after drying also still contained 57-66% of live eggs of [i]A. suum[/i]. The study proved that the solar drying of sludge in the spring period results in a product which poses a hazard for public and animal health and environmental sustainability, and should not be used as a fertilizer.