Diurnal changes in pathogenic and indicator virus concentrations in wastewater

Farkas, Kata; Pântea, Igor; Woodhall, Nick; Williams, Denis; Lambert-Slosarska, Kathryn; Williams, Rachel C.; Grimsley, Jasmine M.S.; Singer, Andrew C.; Jones, Davey L.. 2023 Diurnal changes in pathogenic and indicator virus concentrations in wastewater. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 30. 123785-123795.

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Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been commonly used for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks. As sampling times and methods (i.e. grab vs composite) may vary, diurnal changes of viral concentrations in sewage should be better understood. In this study, we collected untreated wastewater samples hourly for 4 days at two wastewater treatment plants in Wales to establish diurnal patterns in virus concentrations and the physico-chemical properties of the water. Simultaneously, we also trialled three absorbent materials as passive samples as a simple and cost-efficient alternative for the collection of composite samples. Ninety-six percent of all liquid samples (n = 74) and 88% of the passive samplers (n = 59) were positive for SARS-CoV-2, whereas 87% and 97% of the liquid and passive samples were positive for the faecal indicator virus crAssphage, respectively. We found no significant daily variations in the concentration of the target viruses, ammonium and orthophosphate, and the pH and electrical conductivity levels were also stable. Weak positive correlations were found between some physico-chemical properties and viral concentrations. More variation was observed in samples taken from the influent stream as opposed to those taken from the influent tank. Of the absorbent materials trialled as passive samples, we found that tampons provided higher viral recoveries than electronegative filter paper and cotton gauze swabs. For all materials tested, viral recovery was dependent on the virus type. Our results indicate that grab samples may provide representative alternatives to 24-h composite samples if taken from the influent tank, hence reducing the costs of sampling for WBE programmes. Tampons are also viable alternatives for cost-efficient sampling; however, viral recovery should be optimised prior to use.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1614-7499
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: environmental monitoring, human viruses, indicator virus, public health, RT-qPCR, sewage surveillance
NORA Subject Terms: Health
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Date made live: 11 Dec 2023 10:53 +0 (UTC)

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