Is Living Close To A Wastewater Treatment Plant Safe? (Surprising?)

Wastewater treatment plants are facilities that utilize various chemical processes to remove contaminants and bacteria from wastewater. This allows for the water to be returned to the water cycle and used again.

Unfortunately, living close to these facilities is not recommended since they use many chemicals that might be dangerous to human health.

But what exactly is a safe distance to live from a wastewater treatment plant?

What Is A Safe Distance To Live From A Wastewater Treatment Plant?

In general, experts agree that the optimum distance to live from a wastewater treatment plant is about 550 to 5000 meters. But if the residential area is densely populated, the distance might be shorter, about 150 to 1500 meters.

When it comes to septic tanks and sewage treatment plants on a residential property, there should be at least a 7-meter distance between these and any habitable parts, such as houses and similar.

Like with many things, there have been many studies focusing on the safe distance from wastewater treatment plants from settlements and residential areas, and many of these studies came to different conclusions but as a general rule, experts would agree on a 500-5000 meters distance.

What happens when you live too close to a wastewater treatment plant?

Living too close to a wastewater treatment plant is unsafe for several reasons.

The most commonly reported symptoms include headaches, migraines, unusual tiredness, problems with concentration, and dizziness.

On top of that, those who spend a lot of time at wastewater treatment plants might also be at a higher risk of respiratory and skin diseases.

Luckily, there are many laws in place that prevent the construction of residential buildings too close to wastewater treatment plants.

So, it’s very uncommon to experience any of these issues when living in standard residential areas.

Generally, these issues only affect people who work or spend a lot of time at wastewater treatment plants. This is because they are exposed to higher levels of bacteria, viruses, and chemicals than other people.

That’s why it’s important for wastewater treatment plants to follow safety guidelines.

Is it safe to live close to a wastewater treatment plant?

Wastewater treatment plant

Wastewater treatment plants use many techniques to clean the water and return it to use. Because of that, there might be some safety concerns when living nearby such a facility.

Fortunately, there is very little danger when it comes to living close to a wastewater treatment plant unless a serious accident occurs at the facility.

Depending on where you live, there are many environmental and governmental organizations that regulate how wastewater is processed. They also monitor any residential areas nearby the plant, preventing any contamination.

So, there’s barely any serious danger that comes from living close to a wastewater treatment plant.

Does a wastewater treatment plant smell?

Modern Wastewater treatment plant

Aside from health concerns, a lot of people residing close to a wastewater treatment plant worry about odors and bad smells that might come from the facility.

Wastewater treatment plants follow special guidelines to prevent foul smells from leaving the facilities. Still, all treatment facilities might produce odors. These odors might also get worse during the summer when it’s warm and humid.

In most cases, the smell comes from the bacteria found in wastewater, the chemicals used to treat the water, and sometimes both mixed together.

The smell can resemble anything from rotten eggs, ammonia, decomposing organic materials, garlic, or dead fish.

With that said, sticking to the safe distance mentioned above limits the risk of any odors from the wastewater treatment plant reaching nearby residential areas.

Plus, modern water treatment facilities that are up-to-code rarely produce any strong odor outside of the compound.

So, in most cases, people living close to such a facility shouldn’t experience regular bad smells.

Aside from the smell, what other problems are there when living close to a wastewater treatment plant?

Wastewater treatment plant spill

Even if the wastewater treatment plant you live close to doesn’t produce any foul odor, there are other things you may want to keep in mind.

Firstly, wastewater treatment plants clean wastewater, which contains a lot of bacteria as well as viruses. These can transfer to soil, affecting areas nearby.

That’s why it’s crucial to stick to the guidelines and not live too close to water treatment plants.

To clean the water, wastewater treatment plants use chemicals that may not only produce foul odors but also cause health problems.

Wastewater treatment plant Factory

For example, many people who work at these facilities report regular headaches, problems with concentration, and even irritability and mood changes.

To avoid that, there are many safety protocols in place, but there’s still some risk for workers.

Still, modern wastewater treatment plants employ various techniques that prevent these issues from occurring. As a result, people living in an area close to a water treatment facility aren’t exposed to high levels of chemicals or airborne bacteria. 

Is it a bad idea to buy a house close to a wastewater treatment plant?

Houses next to Factory

If you’re on the lookout for a new house and discover that your prospective home is located close to a wastewater treatment plant, you might be worried about various health risks as well as other issues, such as property value.

In general, buying a house close to a wastewater treatment plant isn’t a bad idea as long as the house is located at least 1500 meters away from the treatment facility.

This distance greatly reduces the risk of any contamination as well as foul odors reaching your residential area. 

That said, some wastewater treatment plants do smell. So, if you end up buying a house near one that does and later you want to sell it, you might experience serious problems as well as decreased property value over time.

So, always be sure to do your research before buying a house, regardless of where it’s located.


As you can see, there’s no serious danger coming from living close to a wastewater treatment plant. Still, there are guidelines when it comes to a safe distance, and all residential areas adhere to them.

So, if you’re worried about residing close to a wastewater treatment facility, you can rest assured that you’re safe.

Sources: Research Gate, National Library of Medicine, BMJ Journals, and Wiley Online Library

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