Coronavirus update: Conventional wastewater treatment provides only partial removal of coronaviruses, with safe disposal or reuses depending on the effectiveness of final disinfection, the research said.
Wastewater containing coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 that caused the COVID19 pandemic, may be a potential threat. A research paper says additional filtration is required in sewage treatment plants to successfully remove viruses. Scientists warned that treated wastewater used to fill recreational water facilities, like lakes and rivers, could also become sources of contagion. The study was conducted by an international collaboration of 35 researchers, assessed recent studies on coronaviruses in wastewater. The research has been published in the journal Nature Sustainability, as per a PTI report.
Conventional wastewater treatment provides only partial removal of coronaviruses, with safe disposal or reuses depending on the effectiveness of final disinfection, the research said. Study lead author Edo Bar-Zeev from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel said that there is ample reason to be concerned about how long coronaviruses survive in wastewater and how it impacts natural water sources. “Can wastewater contain enough coronaviruses to infect people? The simple truth is that we do not know enough and that needs to be rectified as soon as possible,” Bar-Zeev said.
Scientists warned that sewage leaking into natural watercourses might lead to infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 via airborne spray. They said treated wastewater used to fill recreational water facilities, like lakes and rivers, could also become sources of contagion, adding that fruits and vegetables irrigated with this water may also be an indirect infection route.
The scientists recommended immediate, new research to determine the level of potential infection, if any, and how long coronaviruses last in various bodies of water and spray. “Wastewater treatment plants need to upgrade their treatment protocols and in the near future also advance toward tertiary treatment through micro- and ultra-filtration membranes, which successfully remove viruses,” the scientists noted.
They added that wastewater can also be used to monitor or track COVID-19 outbreaks. Using a new methodology, the researchers recently detected and traced the presence of the novel coronavirus, and calculated its concentration to pinpoint emerging COVID-19 hotspots.