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Pathogen die-off in vermicomposting process

Bajsa, O., Nair, J., Mathew, K. and Ho, G.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-9190-8812 (2004) Pathogen die-off in vermicomposting process. In: 6th Specialist Conference on Small Water and Wastewater Systems, 11 - 13 February, Fremantle, Western Australia



Vermicomposting has been utilised in waste management for a long time, as it is a good alternative to microbial composting. Vermicomposting toilets are an alternative to the common flush toilets to conserve water and reduce environment pollution due to disposal of sludge and wastewater from sewage treatment plants. The factors that are of main concern in using vermicomposted faecal matter in gardens are the health risks associated with the pathogens that are contained in faecal matter. Therefore this study investigated the pathogen die off in the vermicomposting process of human faecal matter. Faeces was collected in a Vermicom composting toilet using sawdust as a covering substrate. A portion of the samples was spiked with a known concentration of Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Salmonella typhimurium. The faecal matter was then vermicomposted over a period of nine months. Sampling was undertaken monthly to determine the pathogen concentrations. The pathogen levels declined steadily over the composting period and were sufficiently reduced by the fourth month to the quality of class A or B composts according to the ARMCANZ (1995) guidelines for composts. A slight regrowth occurred in the sixth month. However, at the end of the composting period determined by the physical and chemical quality of compost, the pathogens declined to below detection levels.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Environmental Technology Centre
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