Laboratory column experiments were conducted to study the effects of anionic polyacrylamide (PAM) polymer and surfactant linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) on the movement of Escherichia coli and the FRNA phage MS-2. The study was designed to evaluate if PAM or PAM + LAS would enhance the mobility of human pathogens in tropical soils under unsaturated conditions. No breakthrough of phage was observed in a 10 cm column after passing 100 pore volumes of solution containing 1×108 plaque-forming units (PFU)/ml. In later experiments, after passing 10–20 pore volumes of influent containing 1×108/ml MS-2 or E. coli through 15 cm columns, the soil was sliced and the organisms eluted. Phage moved slightly deeper in the polymer-treated column than in the control column. There was no measurable difference in the movement of E. coli in either polymer-treated or control columns. The properties of the soil (high amounts of metal oxides, kaolinitic clay), unsaturated flow conditions, and relatively high ionic strengths of the leaching solution attributed to significant retention of these indicators. The impacts of PAM and LAS on the mobility of E. coli or MS-2 phage in the chosen soils were not significant.

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