Colloid transport and filtration of Cryptosporidium parvum in sandy soils and aquifer sediments

Thomas Harter, Sonja Wagner, Edward R Atwill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


We present theoretical and experimental work on Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts to characterize their transport behavior in saturated, sandy sediments under strictly controlled conditions. Column experiments are implemented with three different sands (effective grain size: 180, 420, and 1400 μm) at two different saturated flow rates (0.7 and 7 m/d). The experiments show that C. parvum oocysts, like other colloids, are subject to velocity enhancement. In medium and coarse sands, the oocysts travel 10-30% faster than a conservative tracer. The classic clean-bed filtration model is found to provide an excellent tool to estimate the degree of C. parvum filtration. Experimentally determined collision efficiencies, α, range from 0.4 to 1.1. The magnitude of α is consistent with the known physical and chemical properties of the oocyst and the transport medium and compares well with, e.g., measured collision efficiencies of similarly sized E. coli bacteria. However, a significant amount of the initial deposition appears to be reversible leading to significant asymmetry and tailing in the oocyst concentration breakthrough curve. We are able to show that the observed late-time oocyst elution can qualitatively be explained by postulating that a significant fraction of the oocyst filtration is reversible and subject to time-dependent detachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering


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