The use of advanced primary treatment (APT) to remove helminth ova from wastewater has raised the issue of treating the generated sludge to allow its reuse or disposal. Several studies have been performed in Mexico in order to treat the sludge with the main goal of destroying helminth ova and bacteria, one of them analysing the acid treatment. Previous research has demonstrated the feasibility of applying such a process using acetic acid to disinfect the sludge, but the potential for bacterial growth was still to be proved. The results of a growth study of faecal coliforms and Salmonella spp. in sludge treated with acetic acid are presented in this paper. Physicochemical sludge generated in a semi-rural area of Mexico City was treated using acetic acid in 6 different doses ranging from 3,700 to 22,000 ppm (w/w) and the concentrations of faecal coliforms, Salmonella spp., and total and volatile solids, were monitored after 30 minutes, and 8, 21 and 35 days. Average initial concentrations in sludge were 1.1×108 MPN/g TS and 1.5×105 MPN/g TS for faecal coliforms and Salmonella spp., while pH, total and volatile solids were 5.4, 5.0% and 73% respectively. Apparently, some acidified samples presented anaerobic activity, observed as a change in sludge coloration, as well as bacterial growth. pH of the treated samples with less than 18,400 ppm raised from the initial value of approximately 4.0 up to 5.9 units, while samples with 18,400 and 22,000 ppm maintained the pH close to 4. Total and volatile solids did not present important changes except in the untreated sample where they were reduced by 0.3 and 3.4% respectively. Samples treated with more than 14,700 ppm of acetic acid did not present any increase in bacterial density. Additionally, concentrations of faecal coliforms and Salmonella spp. in untreated sludge were reduced throughout the time, in contrast to samples treated with doses lower than 14,700 ppm that showed some growth, which suggests that the use of acetic acid in doses lower than 15,000 ppm stimulates in some way the growth of these bacteria.

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