Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

Published the diagnosis of international experts on the coronavirus in wastewater led by the University of Salerno and ICRA

Friday, 19 March 2021

The study Coronavirus in water media: Analysis, fate, disinfection and epidemiological applications, led by Vincenzo Naddeo, from the University of Salerno, and by Damià Barceló, director of the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA), which addresses the analysis and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in aqueous media, has just appeared in the international journal Journal of Hazardous Materials, prepared by a team made up of nine researchers, six university centers and six States (Italy, Spain, Philippines, Korea, United Arab Emirates and USA). Due to the great attention raised by this topic, researchers subjected to rigorous scrutiny about three hundred papers from around the world that examine the fate of coronaviruses (CoVs) in water systems.

Among the final conclusions , this particularly stands out: “Samples (eg representative site, sample type, sample storage) and processes (eg concentration and quantification methods) affect the measurement of the concentration of the coronavirus including -there is SARS-CoV-2 in waste water. This is necessary to exploit and implement the significant potential of WBE (Wastewater-Based-Epidemiology) as an effective surveillance tool. It is recommended to carry out 24 hours of permanent sampling and repeated analyzes to achieve robust and consistent results.

In this context, Damià Barceló declares that ” the European Commission has launched a Covid-19 Surveillance Program in waste water with the Member States taking them forward and establishing comparisons with health data, something we are already doing in Catalonia and that the Commission did not know”. Barceló points out that “he has shown a great interest in knowing how we are doing in Catalonia for more than a year”.

The experts’ diagnosis calls into question in particular the methods for the determination of viable virus particles and the quantification of CoVs and, in particular, of SARS-CoV-2 in drinking water and wastewater surrounding the debate on the methods concentration and emerging detection methods. Analysis of the environmental stability of CoVs, with special attention to SARS-CoV-2, and the effectiveness of disinfection methods are thoroughly reviewed here. The result is a global view of the situation and circumscribes the basis for further debate and analysis on the risk associated with the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in aqueous media.

The data examined indicate that the detection of the virus in wastewater and in natural water provides a potentially very valuable tool for quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) and for wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to assess the levels of virus circulation in the population. Assays of viable virions in aqueous media provide information on their integrity, ability to replicate (in suitable host species) and potential infectivity. Challenges and critical issues relevant to the detection of coronavirus in different water matrices using both direct and surrogate methods, as well as the implementation of epidemiological tools, are presented and examined here.

Holland, Australia, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have launched wastewater control programs . Public and private efforts have been combined to control the presence of the virus in waste water, in Italy, particularly affected by Covid-19, and in Holland, which has monitored the control of more than 300 waste water treatment plants. Especially as a tool of epidemiological indicator of the spread of the virus.

And among the final conclusions also stand out:

1. The excessive use of disinfectants is associated with environmental and human health problems and, for this reason, for the disinfection of SARS-CoV-2, conventional doses of the usual disinfectants for the sanitation and treatment of waste water are recommended.

2. The advances made during this pandemic within the WBE-based monitoring process can be extended to other applications, for example, to the monitoring of pathologies, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

3. An accurate knowledge of the behavior of the virus in the environment can be implemented into a precise and informative model that can also use data based on the WBE. This model can help develop practical technological and policy approaches needed to mitigate the consequences on public health and the economy caused by current virus outbreaks or other potentially possible outbreaks.

Signing the international study Coronavirus in water media: Analysis, fate, disinfection and epidemiological applications Vincenzo Naddeo, University of Salerno, and Damià Barceló, director of ICRA, alongside Antonio Buonerba (Università di Salerno, Italy), Mary Vermi Aizza Corpuz ( Centre Universitario per la Forevisione e Prevenzione Grandi Rischi, CUGRI. University of Salerno-Università di Napoli Federico II ) , Florencio Ballesteros (University of the Philippines ) , Kwang-Ho Choo (Kyungpook National University, Korea ) , Shadi W. Hasan ( Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates ) , Gregory V. Korshin (University of Washington ) , Vincenzo Belgiorno (Università di Salerno, Italy ) .

The Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA)

ICRA is a multidisciplinary water research center created on October 26, 2006, by the government of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In addition, it is a CERCA center and has the impetus of its patrons: the Department of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat (DECO), the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) and the University of Girona (UdG) .

It is an international referent that is committed to the research of the integral cycle of water, in terms of water resources, water quality, in the broadest sense of the word, (chemical, microbiological, ecological, etc…) and treatment and evaluation technologies and the transfer of this knowledge to society and the business and industrial fabric.

The research carried out there refers to all aspects related to water, especially those related to its rational use and the effects of human activity on water resources.

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