The SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread globally and has severely impacted public health and the economy. Hand hygiene, social distancing, and the usage of personal protective equipment are considered the most vital tools in controlling the primary transmission of the virus. Converging evidence indicated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and its persistence over several days, which may create secondary transmission of the virus via waterborne and wastewater pathways. Although, researchers have started focusing on this mode of virus transmission, limited knowledge and societal unawareness of the transmission through wastewater may lead to significant increases in the number of positive cases. To emphasize the severe issue of virus transmission through wastewater and create societal awareness, we present a state of the art critical review on transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and the potential remedial strategies to effectively control the viral spread and safeguard society. For low-income countries with high population densities, it is suggested to identify the virus in large scale municipal wastewater plants before following up with one-to-one testing for effective control of the secondary transmission. Ultrafiltration is an effective method for wastewater treatment and usually more than 4 logs of virus removal are achieved while safeguarding good protein permeability. Decentralized wastewater treatment facilities using solar-assisted disinfestation methods are most economical and can be effectively used in hospitals, isolation wards, and medical centers for reducing the risk of transmission from high local concentration sites, especially in tropical countries with abundant solar energy. Disinfection with chlorine, sodium hypochlorite, benzalkonium chloride, and peracetic acid have shown potential in terms of virucidal properties. Biological wastewater treatment using micro-algae will be highly effective in removal of virus and can be incorporated into membrane bio-reaction to achieve excellent virus removal rate. Though promising results have been shown by initial research for inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater using physical, chemical and biological based treatment methods, there is a pressing need for extensive investigation of COVID-19 specific disinfectants with appropriate concentrations, their environmental implications, and regular monitoring of transmission. Effective wastewater treatment methods with high virus removal capacity and low treatment costs should be selected to control the virus spread and safeguard society from this deadly virus.
- Secondary transmission
- Wastewater treatment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law