Wastewater containing coronaviruses can be a serious threat, according to a new global study led by researchers at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University (BGU) in Negev.
New paper published in Natural sustainability, An international collaboration of 35 researchers, evaluates recent research on coronaviruses in wastewater and previous airborne infectious diseases, including SARS and MERS.
The goal is to assess potential threats, research avenues and possible solutions, and to gain valuable future perspectives.
There are good reasons to worry about how long a coronavirus survives in wastewater and how it affects natural water sources. Can wastewater contain enough coronavirus to infect people? The simple truth is that we don’t have enough knowledge and need to fix it as soon as possible. “
EGU Bar-Zeev, Principal Investigator, BGU Zuckerberg Institute
Bar-Zeev and his postdoctoral student Anne Bogler, along with other well-known researchers, have shown that sewage leaking into natural waterways can lead to infection by aerial spraying.
Similarly, treated wastewater used to fill recreational water facilities such as lakes and rivers can also be a source of infection. Finally, fruits and vegetables irrigated with wastewater that have not been properly sanitized can also be an indirect route of transmission.
The research team proposes an immediate new study to determine the level of potential infection.
“Wastewater treatment plants need to upgrade their treatment protocols, and in the near future they will move towards microfiltration and ultrafiltration membrane tertiary treatment with successful virus removal,” Bar-Zeev said. Colleagues say.
At the same time, the wastewater can act as a coal mine canary because it can be monitored to track COVID-19 outbreaks. Coronaviruses begin to appear in faeces before other symptoms such as fever and cough appear in asymptomatic people.
Therefore, regular monitoring can give authorities advance warning of hotspots. BGU researchers recently completed a pilot study in Ashkelon, Israel to detect and track the presence of the virus, calculate its concentration and identify COVID-19 hotspots. Other BGU researchers are working on the development of water nanofiltration technology.
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