Tracking COVID-19 Virus In Wastewater

Wastewater in wastewater plant. Photo courtesy of Field’s Engineering Consultant Services, LLC.

By Sorista Vaught

In the July 2020 – Volume 36, Issue 7 of WaterWorld, there was a short Editor’s Letter entitled “Tracking the Virus” in which Editor Alanna Maya discussed the virus. Thinking this may be of interest, what follows are some high points:

Wastewater surveillance has been around for some time and is now coming front and center to aid in predicting the locations of the virus’ next outbreak. According to Maya academic research groups, some private companies and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have been working to sample and test wastewater in cooperation with the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. They are anticipating developing a test method to help track the virus and aid in decisions being make regarding public health.

Those working at wastewater plants such as this know that the current treatment methods employed are effective enough to kill the virus in the wastewater. Scientists are studying to see the life span of the virus in wastewater prior to treatment and do consistent tests while factoring in that often the sewage is being watered down by rain or factory runoff.

The virus samples in wastewater have been discovered in the fecal shedding which takes place early in the progression of the disease before patients show any symptoms. However, what complicates these tests is the fact that this shedding continues on long after people have overcome the virus and are well again. Those testing should still, despite these factors, be able to track increases and decreases in the amounts of the virus detected, thus making it possible to track the trend for an area effectively.

We are thankful for those individuals in the Water Research Foundation (WRF) for taking steps to aid in protecting our communities against this virus.

To read the original article click on the link below:

https://www.waterworld.com/drinking-water/article/14179070/tracking-the-virus

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