State Key Laboratory of Environmental Aquatic Chemistry, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, PR China; National Engineering Laboratory for VOCs Pollution Control Material & Technology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 101408, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
Aeration and mechanical agitation are the main drivers of aerosol generation in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). However, the effect of aeration mode on aerosol characteristics remains poorly understood. In this study, horizontal rotor aeration and fine bubble aeration in the same WWTP were selected to identify the effect on the emission, size distribution, microbial and chemical composition. For bacteria, fungi, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in aerosols, the horizontal rotor aeration had higher contributions to the emissions than the fine bubble aeration. Horizontal rotor aeration generated a more coarse fraction (size > 7 μm) and a comparable respirable fraction (RF; size < 3.3 μm) compared with those of fine bubble aeration. More types of potential pathogens were generated by horizontal rotor aeration. The most easily aerosolized genera generated by horizontal rotor aeration and fine bubble aeration, were Trichosporon and Mycobacterium, with the aerosolization factors of 633.70 and 192.56, respectively. For Cl-, SO42-, NO3-, Zn, Ba, Cd, Sc, V, Rb, Ca, K, Ca, K, Mg, Na and Si in the aerosols, the contributions of fine bubble aeration were higher than those of horizontal rotor aeration. Due to the aerosol specialty from the different aeration modes, targeted manipulations should be employed to reduce the exposure risks.