Last year on March 11th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The world was instructed to take aggressive action against the development of the sickness. COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted through liquid droplets from someone who is infected who releases these droplets into the air through coughing or sneezing in the vicinity of another individual.

Because COVID-19 can be transmitted through bodily fluids, this impacts wastewater treatment and it’s important to understand how and its transmission rates. COVID-19 is a novel virus, this means that there is no previous data or research relating to it. However, there has been a large body of research done on similar viruses in wastewater.

The survival rate of a virus in water depends on various properties that include the stability of the virus in its surroundings and the characteristics of the lipid layer of the cell. The infectivity of the virus is dependent on environmental factors like ambient temperature, humidity, and light or UV exposure.

There is no conclusive evidence that says COVID-19 can stay infective after undergoing the disinfection processes used for drinking water and wastewater treatment. Disinfection processes like UV eradication, chlorination, and peracetic acid oxidation are effective in damaging the lipid layer of the virus cell so that it loses its ability to infect other cells. In fact, coronavirus seems to be more easily eliminated by disinfectants during the wastewater treatment process.

There are now global efforts underway by researchers to use wastewater as a surveillance method for coronavirus outbreaks across communities. It is a low-cost and accurate method for tracking these types of occurrences, without compromising the confidentiality of individuals.

Even though wastewater tracing of COVID-19 has just begun, it has proven to be valuable in providing data that might not have otherwise been available.

Besides clean water, biosolids must also undergo the same methods of treatment as wastewater to reduce pathogens before they can be land applied. These processes are also effective at eliminating enveloped viruses. Advanced biosolid waste treatment processes like Lystek THP can eliminate pathogens by using steam heat injection, alkali addition, and physical shearing.

To protect your workforce, subcontractors, and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, protocols recommended by local health units and Health Canada should be implemented. Be diligent in providing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and encourage proper hygiene habits to protect against pathogens common in wastewater.

Remember to always wash or sanitize your hands, wear a face covering, and social distance.