Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

Charles G Feigley


Pathogenic bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics to which they were previously sensitive, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality worldwide [1]. The increase in drug resistance in bacteria is an emerging public health concern. The activated sludge tanks of wastewater treatment plants are known sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These resistant bacteria can become aerosolized and disperse downwind. Using previously sampled aerosol concentrations and meteorological data, a Gaussian dispersion model was developed to estimate the concentration downwind from a selected wastewater treatment facility. The emission rate was calculated to be 7,941 CFU/m²/sec ± 2,149 CFU/m²/sec. This value was used in Arcview 10.1 to construct a visualization of the concentration of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) downwind from the activated sludge tanks during specific meteorological conditions. This was accomplished through the identification of the activated sludge tanks as the source cells through the use of grid fishnet overlay. Two final layers displayed the dispersion of ARB downwind from activated sludge tanks. The concentrations were highest directly downwind from the activated sludge tanks. The demonstration of the ability of a GIS model in the visualization of bacteria dispersion signifies the potential use of spatial modeling in future environmental epidemiological studies and the use of spatial modeling to identify geographic areas of interest.