Advances in wastewater treatment technology have led many to predict that planned wastewater reuse in agriculture will soon become more common in some regions of the world which face acute problems of water quality and quantity. The use of ecologically friendly wastewater disinfection techniques could be one of the most exciting advances in this field. The combined action of a photosensitizer (meso-substituted cationic porphyrin, TMPyP; rose Bengal, RB; methylene blue, MB) and visible light, particularly sunlight, seem to be a promising approach to microbial inactivation, potentially applicable for disinfection of domestic effluents. In the present work, photosensitization was either performed on Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in pure culture (Enterococcus hirae and Escherichia coli), or carried out with wild strains in secondary wastewater effluent (enterococci and E. coli). The results described in this paper show that TMPyP is the most effective for photoinactivation of the bacterial models studied here. The relative effectiveness of RB and MB was found to be tightly linked to bacteria Gram type. Whatever the sensitizer used, Gram-negative bacteria were more resistant to photosensitization than Gram-positive strains. The order of increasing effectiveness of the photosensitizers for photoinactivation of Gram-positive bacteria (TMPyP ≥ RB > MB) and Gram-negative bacteria (TMPyP > MB > RB) remains unchanged for either pure culture or wild strains (bacterial communities in wastewater). The effectiveness of the photochemical process depends primarily on the type of microorganisms as well as the type of photosensitizers (concentration, singlet oxygen quantum yield, ionic charge), and the reaction medium. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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