Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 7237–7247 | Cite as

Hygienization performances of innovative sludge treatment solutions to assure safe land spreading

  • C. LevantesiEmail author
  • C. Beimfohr
  • A. R. Blanch
  • A. Carducci
  • A. Gianico
  • F. Lucena
  • M. C. Tomei
  • G. Mininni
Effective management of sewage sludge


The present research aims at the evaluation of the hygienization performances of innovative sludge treatment processes applied for the separated treatment of secondary sludge. Namely, two digestion pretreatments (sonication and thermal hydrolysis) and two sequential biological processes (mesophilic/thermophilic and anaerobic/aerobic digestion) were compared to the mesophilic (MAD) and thermophilic anaerobic digestion (TAD). Microbial indicators (Escherichia coli, somatic coliphages and Clostridium perfringens spores) and pathogens (Salmonella and enteroviruses), which show different resistances to treatment processes, were monitored in untreated and treated sludge. Overall, microbial load in secondary sludge was shown to be similar or lower than previously reported in literature for mixed sludge. Notably, the anaerobic/aerobic digestion process increased the removal of E. coli and somatic coliphages compared to the simple MAD and always achieved the hygienization requirement (2-log-unit removal of E. coli) proposed by EU Commission in the 3rd Working Document on sludge (April 2000) for the use of treated sludges in agriculture with restriction on their application. The microbial quality limits for the unrestricted use of sludge in agriculture (no Salmonella in 50 g wet weight (WW) and E. coli <500 CFU/g) were always met when thermal digestion or pretreatment was applied; however, the required removal level (6-log-unit removal of E. coli) could not be assessed due to the low level of this microorganism in raw sludge. Observed levels of indicator removal showed a higher resistance of viral particles to thermal treatment compared with bacterial cells and confirmed the suitability of somatic coliphages as indicators in thermal treatment processes.


Sewage sludge Anaerobic digestion Aerobic stabilization Pretreatments Sludge hygienization Somatic coliphages C. perfringens Salmonella Enterovirus 



This project has received funding from the European Unions Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement 265156. The authors acknowledge Dr. Camilla Braguglia for the precious coordination of the work on the separated treatment of WAS for safe land reuse, and for the helpful suggestion for the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Levantesi
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Beimfohr
    • 2
  • A. R. Blanch
    • 3
  • A. Carducci
    • 1
  • A. Gianico
    • 1
  • F. Lucena
    • 3
  • M. C. Tomei
    • 1
  • G. Mininni
    • 1
  1. 1.CNR – Water Research InstituteRomeItaly
  2. 2.vermicon AGMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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