Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wastewater Treatment Microscopes

Wastewater treatment involves the process of identifying and eliminating microorganisms including:
  • Bacteria - These small, single-celled organisms are found in large numbers in polluted water. Phase contrast is used to identify most bacteria in wastewater.
  • Protozoa - These single-celled organisms are typically much larger than bacteria and are typically found in large numbers in wastewater, many being quite mobile. Protozoa have received increased attention because of their connection with waterborne diseases such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
  • Metazoa - Multi-celled organisms that are larger and more complex than Protozoa. Rotifers are included in this group and are fairly common in wastewater treatment processes, as they play an active role in the breakdown of organic wastes. Observing and quantifying rotifers contributes to the evaluation of treatment conditions. 
  • Viruses - These are much smaller than bacteria and can not be seen with a conventional microscope. Viruses are parasites and therefore can only reproduce within a host cell (such as bacteria). Although viruses do not play a known role in wastewater treatment, they are important to water quality professionals. Many diseases caused by viruses can be transmitted through polluted waters.
Photo Courtesy Environmental Leverage
There are two types of wastewater treatment microscopes. A simple wastewater brightfield particulate microscope is used to identify particulate matter. These microscopes might be used in the food industry to determine if the manufacturing process is placing too much particle matter into the sewer system.

The more common wastewater treatment microscopes use phase contrast to identify bacteria, protozoa and rotifers. The microscope systems created specifically for wastewater treatment include all specific items required to identify (and capture images if needed) the most common microlife found in wastewater.

If you have specific questions regarding the wastewater treatment process or selection of a wastewater treatment microscope, please contact us.