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Hazards of Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants

Hazards of Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants


Hazards of Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants

Sioux Falls, SD – May 2024

Water / Wastewater treatment facilities take disturbed or unhealthy water and make it environmentally safe. This water, which can contain chemicals, oils, and human waste, endures a process of treatment and purification that utilizes chemicals and toxins that can become a potential threat to personnel at the facility or the facility itself.

Oxygen deficiency and toxic and combustible gases are potential by-products of the Water and Wastewater treatment processes. Throughout these facilities, you will find enclosed spaces where these gases may accumulate. Continuous monitoring of gas hazards is the most efficient method of protecting personnel and equipment.

Common gas hazards found in these plants are combustible gases such as Methane (LEL), oxygen deficiency, and toxic gases. Your local jurisdiction or your on-site safety personnel can recommend what to monitor for at these locations.

Typical Gases: Combustible Gases (LEL), Oxygen Deficiency, Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, Chlorine, Sulfur Dioxide, Ammonia and others.

Hazards of Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants

Wastewater treatment plants, while essential for maintaining public health and environmental sustainability, can pose several hazards to both the environment and human health. Some of these hazards include:

  1. Chemical Hazards: Wastewater treatment plants often use chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, and other disinfectants to treat wastewater. Improper handling or accidental release of these chemicals can pose risks to workers and nearby communities. Additionally, the presence of toxic chemicals in the wastewater itself can pose hazards during treatment processes.
  2. Biological Hazards: Wastewater contains various pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, that can cause diseases in humans and animals. Workers at wastewater treatment plants are at risk of exposure to these pathogens, especially if proper safety protocols are not followed.
  3. Physical Hazards: The equipment and machinery used in wastewater treatment plants can present physical hazards such as moving parts, high-pressure systems, and confined spaces. Accidents involving this equipment can result in injuries or fatalities to workers.
  4. Environmental Hazards: Improperly treated wastewater discharged from treatment plants can contaminate water bodies, leading to pollution and harming aquatic ecosystems.
  5. Air Pollution: Wastewater treatment processes such as aeration and sludge digestion can release gases such as hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can pose risks to human health and contribute to air pollution.
  6. Noise Pollution: The operation of pumps, motors, and other machinery in wastewater treatment plants can generate high levels of noise, which can affect the health and well-being of workers and nearby residents.

To mitigate these hazards, wastewater treatment plants must implement proper safety protocols, provide training to workers, and adhere to environmental regulations to minimize the risks associated with their operations.

Safety Protocols

Safety protocols for wastewater treatment plants are crucial to protect the health and well-being of workers, prevent environmental contamination, and ensure the efficient operation of the facility. Here are some key safety protocols commonly implemented in wastewater treatment plants:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Workers should wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, safety goggles, respirators, and protective clothing, to protect against chemical exposure, biological hazards, and physical injuries.
  2. Chemical Handling and Storage:
    • Proper handling, storage, and labeling of chemicals are essential to prevent spills, leaks, and accidental exposure. Chemicals should be stored in designated areas with adequate ventilation and secondary containment measures.
  3. Emergency Response Plans:
    • Wastewater treatment plants should have comprehensive emergency response plans in place to address incidents such as chemical spills, equipment failures, and natural disasters. This includes procedures for evacuations, containment, and communication with emergency responders.
  4. Training and Education:
    • Workers should receive thorough training on safety procedures, hazard recognition, and emergency response protocols. Regular safety meetings and refresher training sessions should be conducted to reinforce safe practices.
  5. Confined Space Entry:
    • Proper procedures and permits must be followed when entering confined spaces such as tanks, sewers, and manholes. Confined space entry protocols should include atmospheric monitoring, ventilation, and rescue procedures.
  6. Equipment Safety:
    • Regular inspection, maintenance, and repair of equipment are essential to prevent accidents and ensure safe operation. Lockout/tagout procedures should be followed when servicing machinery to prevent accidental startup.

Why use TracXP by Macurco?

  1. Gas Detection Sensors: TracXP systems incorporate sensors capable of detecting a range of gases commonly found in wastewater treatment facilities, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), chlorine (Cl2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  2. Continuous Monitoring: The TracXP by Macurco systems provides continuous monitoring of gas levels in key facility areas, including treatment tanks, pump stations, and chemical storage areas.
  3. Alarm Systems: These products feature audible and visual alarms to alert workers in the event of gas leaks or unsafe gas levels detected in the environment. Alarms can help prompt immediate action and evacuation if necessary.
  4. Data Logging and Reporting: TracXP systems include data logging capabilities to record gas concentration levels over time. This data can be used for compliance reporting, trend analysis, and troubleshooting.
  5. Wireless Connectivity: Several of the TracXP product line offers wireless connectivity options, allowing for remote monitoring and control of gas detection systems from a central location.
  6. Explosion-proof Design: Given the potentially hazardous nature of the environments in which they are used, TracXP products feature explosion-proof housing and components to ensure safety in volatile atmospheres.
  7. Easy Installation and Maintenance: Macurco products are designed for ease of installation and maintenance, allowing for quick setup and minimal downtime during routine maintenance tasks.

Water and wastewater treatment plants must carefully select gas detection systems that meet their specific safety requirements and regulatory standards. The TracXP by Macurco product line offers solutions tailored to these facilities’ unique needs, helping to protect workers and the environment from the risks associated with hazardous gases.

Macurco has an application support team that can lay out suggested sensor placement locations on top of customer-provided building diagrams and can help identify potential hazards and other important factors so that the sale, installation, and operation of the gas detection equipment is as smooth as possible. Electrical and data connection diagrams are also available on our website and can be customized to suit the customer’s exact scenario.

For more information about the TracXP Industrial Fixed, Wireless, and Flame product solutions, please contact Macurco at 1-877-367-7891 or email [email protected].

TracXP Industrial Product Solutions

Fixed Monitoring
• Certified for Class 1, Div 1 or Div 2
• Vivid QVGA backlit color TFT display
• Displays gas values, units of measurement,
trend graphs and alarm levels
• LED alarm status indication
• Dual sensor capable
• Supports remote sensor applications
• Standard Ethernet port with web server
• Four configurable 5A relays (Optional)
• Modbus® RS-485 output (Optional)

Wireless Monitoring
• Robust 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz radios
• Operates on “D” lithium battery (Std.)
• Optional 12-24V DC power board
• 4-20 mA input option
• Dual sensor capable w/ integral &
remote sensor options
• Magnetic mount option
• Class 1, Div. 2 standard
• Five LED indication (3) alarms (2)
communication Status
• Two password levels for security
• Multiple antenna options

AimSafety Portable Gas Monitors

PM100 (Single Gas CO, H2S, O2, NH3, SO2, NO2, or H2)
• Visible calibration status
• Maintenance-free
• Operates continuously for two years
• Single button operation
• Event logging
• Rugged, high visual housing
• Easy-to-read LCD display
• IP67 dust tight & water resistant
• 30-Day end-of-life warning & notification
• PM100 Bump/Calibration Station available for PM100 CO, H2S, and O2 models

PM400 (O2, LEL, CO and H2S Four Gas)
• Easy-to-read LCD display
• Single button operation
• Rugged, high visual housing
• IP67 dust tight & water resistant
• 60-Day continuous runtime (IR version)
• IR sensor is immune to poisoning
• IR sensor used in inert (low O2) environments
• PM400 Bump/Calibration Station available

About Macurco Gas Detection

Macurco Gas Detection designs, develops, and manufactures a full set of fixed and portable gas detection monitors to protect workers, responders, and the community. Macurco has more than 50 years of proven gas detection experience in residential, commercial, and industrial gas monitoring. Macurco gas detection systems (HVAC, Fire & Security, AimSafety, and TracXP) are widely recognized by distributors and users for their high performance and consistent reliability.

Macurco is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Learn more at

For more information about Macurco products, applications, or gases, please get in touch with Macurco at 877-367-7891 or email us at [email protected].

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