Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), member of the Coronavirus family, has recently emerged from Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced an official name of the disease [coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)] and classified it as a global pandemic. Though the virus is primarily spread through person-to-person contact and causes respiratory tract illnesses; some recent studies have suggested the possibility for fecal-oral transmission and detected the RNA virus in the feces of infected individuals, even after respiratory symptoms have subsided. A recent study confirmed that the virus is also capable of infecting human gut enterocytes (Lamers et al., 2020). However, the potential transmission of SARS- CoV-2 via wastewater is currently unknown. Therefore, the proposed study here will facilitate a better understanding of persistence and disinfection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. First, we will use laboratory- controlled studies examining the survivability of the virus in wastewater. We will spike the SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and monitor infectivity over time. Second, we will use chlorine disinfectants to determine the inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. Last, we will conduct a field survey to investigate the fate of the virus in wastewater treatment systems from different locales. The proposed work will provide information to state and federal regulatory agencies that can be used to develop guidance for prevention of COVID-19. The project will also aid in evaluation and development of best disinfection approaches and quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). The findings will be invaluable to water resource recovery facilities for better management against potential exposure risk and ensuring worker health and safety.
SARS-CoV-2 potential transmission through sewage remain unknown. We currently do not know if infectious virus particles survive wastewater treatment, and how long do they remain viable and persist in wastewater. We will therefore study the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions and the effects of disinfectants in inactivating SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.