The UV dose-response behavior of laboratory cultures of waterborne bacteria were examined for UV doses ranging from ca. 0 -100 mW•s/cm2 using a collimated-beam reactor. Specific physiological responses measured in these tests included viability (ability to reproduce) and respiration (oxygen uptake rate). The results of these exposures indicated that resistance to UV-imposed loss of viability in E. coli cultures can be partially attributed to agglomeration during the irradiation process. From these results, it is conjectured that a bacterial population may be comprised of two sub-populations: one with low resistance (discrete or paired cells) and a second with high resistance (bacterial aggregates). A small fraction of the high-resistance portion of the population appears to be essentially unaffected by UV irradiation, thereby causing a discontinuity in the measured dose-response behavior. Moreover, the dose-response behavior of the highly resistant fraction is variable and difficult to describe quantitatively. The basis of these statements and most information in the literature is microbial viability as quantified by the membrane filtration assay. In contrast to these findings, the results of analyses for bacterial activity (respiration) suggest that comparatively little change in the population can be found to result from UV irradiation. This suggests that UV radiation accomplishes inactivation of the bacteria, but does not “kill” the bacterial cells per se, thereby highlighting the importance of considering bacterial repair processes in the design of UV disinfection systems.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.