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The wastewater industry has known for years that wastewater and raw sewage contain an abundance of dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites. Continuous exposure poses a health risk to sewer workers. A number of industry organizations and OSHA has recently acknowledged this fact. Public health officials have recently alerted the public to a new health danger posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria, commonly known as “super bugs”. These “super bugs” are resistant to treatment by our current arsenal of antibiotics. Medical experts have also warned us that new antibiotic drug development is at an all time low with no guarantee of future success. At the same time, viruses are busy changing their genetic structure and creating new forms. The results could be equally dangerous.
Of particular interest to our industry, a new wastewater study found MRSA, a highly dangerous “super bug”, in three out of four wastewater treatment plants tested. “Super bugs,” previously confined to hospital isolation wards, are now commonly found in sewer lines and wastewater treatment plants. Cleaning sewer lines exposes sewer workers to “super bugs” and viruses.
MRSA infections are responsible for over 20,000 deaths a year in the US.
 Safety and Health in Wastewater Systems, Manual of Practice, Water Environment Federation
AFSCME Health 7 Safety guide for Water & wastewater treatment Plant Workers
 OSHA 29CFR, Part 1901.120
 B Spellberg, The Epidemic of Antibiotic-Resistant Infection, CID 2008:46
 M. Herper, How to Avert an Antibiotic Apocalypse, Forbes, 2013
 Cantalupo PG, et al. 2011. Raw sewage harbors diverse viral populations. mBio 2(5):e00180-11. doi:10.1128/mBio.00180-11.
 Bob Roehr. 2012. MRSA in waste treatment water poses potential risk. Environ Health
Perspect BMJ 2012;345:e7673
 New Scientist, January 2011