IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Bioaerosol exposure in wastewater treatment plants: molecular approach applications and viral risk


Workers in wastewater treatment plants may be exposed to microbial aerosols, some of which may contain pathogenic or allergenic microorganismes that can cause respiratory or gastroenteric disorders. Exposure to high concentrations of bioaerosols can lead to the development of diseases.

Classical sampling and analysis techniques have proved insufficient to to describe exposure to certain infectious or sensitizing viruses in research on bioaerosols in wastewater plants. Currently, new high-tech methods can produce a comprehensive characterization of bioaerosols.The researchers will take workplace samples in order to measure a set of parameters: total bacteria, biodiversity, quantification of influenza and gastroenteritis viruses, endotoxins, etc. They will also document the incidence of diseases more likely to affect wastewater plant workers.

This extensive research relying on the most innovative approaches in studying bioaerosols will provide insight into the risk related to exposure to airborne infectious or sensitizing agents in wastewater treatment plants. Ultimately, this research will allow the implementation of ways to improve the quality of the working environment in wastewater treatment plants.

Additional Information

Type: Project
Number: 2010-0050
Status: Completed
Year of completion: 2019
  • Caroline Duchaine (Centre de recherche Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec)
  • Jacques Lavoie (IRSST)