Fluorescent Microspheres as Surrogates in Evaluating the Efficacy of Riverbank Filtration for Removing Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts and Other Pathogens

  • Ronald HarveyEmail author
  • David Metge
  • Rodney Sheets
  • Jay Jasperse
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)


A major benefit of riverbank filtration (RBF) is that it provides a relatively effective means for pathogen removal. There is a need to conduct more injection-and-recovery transport studies at operating RBF sites in order to properly assess the combined effects of the site heterogeneities and ambient physicochemical conditions, which are difficult to replicate in the lab. For field transport studies involving pathogens, there is considerable interest in using fluorescent carboxylated microspheres (FCM) as surrogates, because they are chemically inert, negatively charged, easy to detect, available in a wide variety of sizes, and have been found to be nonhazardous in tracer applications. Although there have been a number of in-situ studies comparing the subsurface transport behaviors of FCM to those of bacteria and viruses, much less is known about their suitability for investigations of protozoa. Oocysts of the intestinal protozoan pathogen Cryptosporidium spp are of particular concern for many RBF operations because of their ubiquity and persistence in rivers and high resistance to chlorine disinfection. Although microspheres often have proven to be less-than-ideal analogs for capturing the abiotic transport behavior of viruses and bacteria, there is encouraging recent evidence regarding use of FCM as surrogates for C. parvum oocysts. This chapter discusses the potential of fluorescent microspheres as safe and easy-to-detect surrogates for evaluating the efficacy of RBF operations for removing pathogens, particularly Cryptosporidium, from source waters at different points along the flow path.


Riverbank filtration bank filtration fluorescent microspheres pathogens Cryptosporidium oocysts 



The authors gratefully acknowledge assistance and funding from the Sonoma County Water Agency, the USGS Ohio Water Science Center, the USGS Massachusetts Science Center, and from the USGS Toxics program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Harvey
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Metge
    • 1
  • Rodney Sheets
    • 2
  • Jay Jasperse
    • 3
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyBoulderUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey Eastern Region Science OfficeColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Sonoma County Water AgencySanta RosaUSA

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