Utah sewage study detects high concentrations of novel coronavirus in large cities, areas with outbreaks


Gazette Introductory Note: We should underline that detecting virus in wastewater does not mean that there is viral contamination of drinking water. Note that “the virus in its flushed form is no longer alive,” and “the virus was not found in water leaving sewage treatment plants but in water entering all 10 sewage plants.” 


Wastewater Treatment Tanks

Testing for virus in wastewater plants could be a valuable health management tool.

 SALT LAKE CITY — Utah scientists say sewage could provide a tool for ongoing monitoring and early detection of the novel coronavirus in communities after they found high concentrations of the the virus in areas with outbreaks.

The information could be useful for state officials as infection numbers keep climbing.

Researchers hoped to discover whether waste that gets flushed down the toilet could help Utah get a more localized picture of infection rates. In March, as part of a pilot study, they began testing samples of untreated wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 gene copies in 10 treatment plants across the Beehive State representing about 40% of Utah’s population.

“The initial results show that we can not only detect the virus in sewage, but we can see trends that are broadly consistent with known infection rates in Utah’s communities,” Erica Gaddis, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality, said in a statement.

“Monitoring virus in Utah’s sewage systems offers a tool for early detection of rising infections, monitoring community infection trends and confirmation of low infection rates. We hope that monitoring the sewage can help in prioritizing limited state resources such as mobile testing,” Gaddis said.

The virus in its flushed form is no longer alive, but copies of its genetic material get left behind. Officials say that even those with asymptomatic infections shed the virus in their feces.

Plant operators voluntarily collected samples at the inlets of their sewage treatment plants beginning in mid-April through the end of May. Researchers estimated viral concentration per 100,000 people.

The virus was not found in water leaving sewage treatment plants but in water entering all 10 sewage plants, officials said, with 64% of the 171 collected samples containing it.

In late May, when Cache County reported an outbreak at a Hyrum meat packaging facility that led to a sharp increase in cases, the Logan and Hyrum sewage plants also saw large increases of the virus in water samples.

But highest viral concentrations were detected in larger cities, researchers said, especially tourist communities.

Utah is now “committed to expanding and operationalizing this tool in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” officials said.

Article Source: Deseret News.

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Are You Eating PFAS?

Posted June 8th, 2020

PFAS present throughout the Yadkin-Pee Dee river food chain

Researchers have found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in every step of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River food chain, even though the river does not have a known industrial input of these compounds.

Gazette’s Introductory Note: This North Carolina State University research adds a new dimension to PFAS contamination of the environment. You can protect yourself from PFAS in drinking water with a home reverse osmosis unit, but it may be harder to avoid PFAS-contaminated foods. The ubiquitousness of PFAS especially brings into question the wisdom of the recent administration rejection of proposed EPA rules designed to limit PFAS content of imported goods.



Researchers from North Carolina State University have found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in every step of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River food chain, even though the river does not have a known industrial input of these compounds. The study examined the entire aquatic ecosystem for PFAS compounds and identified strong links between ecosystem groups that lead to biomagnification, the process that leads to greater concentrations of these substances in animals that sit higher on the food chain — including humans.

PFAS compounds were engineered to resist friction and heat, and are in many products that we use daily, from furniture to meat packaging. However, it is this “slippery” characteristic that makes them persist in ecosystems and poses a risk to our health.

“These compounds are engineered to be persistent on purpose; this is how they keep stains off your couch and eggs from sticking to your frying pan,” says Tom Kwak, unit leader of NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, professor of applied ecology at NC State, and a co-author of the study. “We pay the price for these compounds when they enter the aquatic ecosystem.”

In a study measuring real-time PFAS contamination levels along the entire food chain of this major Atlantic river — from water and sediment to insects and fish — the researchers identified two PFAS hot spots along the Pee Dee and were able to establish strong links of PFAS transmission up the aquatic food chain.

The research team collected water, sediment, algae, plant, insect, fish, crayfish, and mollusk samples at five study sites along the length of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River, which begins in Blowing Rock, N.C., and runs 230 miles to empty into the Atlantic Ocean at Winyah Bay, South Carolina. They analyzed the samples for 14 different PFAS compounds.

While nearly every sample contained PFAS compounds, the site with the greatest PFAS concentrations was just downstream of the Rocky River input, which drains part of the watershed from Charlotte, N.C. and the surrounding area. The site with the second greatest PFAS concentrations was downstream in South Carolina, but there is no known or plausible input of PFAS for that region.

In aquatic food chains, biofilm — the soupy mixture of algae and bacteria that sticks to your boat — is the base resource for all life further up the chain. In this study, the largest concentrations of 10 of the 14 PFAS compounds measured were in biofilm samples. Unsurprisingly, aquatic insects, which primarily eat biofilm, had the greatest accumulation of PFAS compounds of all the living taxa the researchers sampled. This confirms a strong trophic link, or step in the food chain, showing how PFAS transfers from biofilm to insects, which are then eaten by freshwater fish.

When PFAS is in every step of the food chain, the compounds accumulate at each step. For example, a fish caught in an area with PFAS may have eaten hundreds of insects, each of which has consumed contaminated biofilm and other plants.

“We are part of the food chain and when we ingest these foods, we accumulate their PFAS loads, too,” says Greg Cope, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Applied Ecology, coordinator of the NC State Agromedicine Institute, and corresponding author of the study. “This gives new meaning to the phrase, ‘You are what you eat.'”


Science Daily.  (Report is slightly truncated.)



Although we had our poster ready to go, we announce with regret that National Garden Hose Day festivities have been put on hold for the present and are not likely to be rescheduled for later in the year.

National Garden Hose Day, which is usually celebrated on or near the first day of summer, will not be observed this year due to the compelling need for social distancing. As national director Ron Carson points out, “Garden Hose Day events have always drawn large crowds, and large crowds are not what the nation needs this summer. We urge you to stay home and enjoy your garden hose in the safety of your own back yard.”  Carson explained that if conditions change rapidly for the better,  limited Garden Hose Day celebrations may be held in some cities later in the summer. “But for now,” he said, “celebrate with your family and stay safe.”



The popular Garden Hose Tug, the main attraction at most cities’ garden hose celebrations, does not lend itself to social distancing. 

Gazette’s Famous Water Pictures:  Dr. Semmelweis Washing His Hands



Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis washing his hands in chlorinated lime water before attending to patients.

History of Hand-Washing

The idea that “germs” that cause disease get on people’s hands and that they can be spread from person to person by unclean hands hasn’t been around that long. In fact, it was 19th-century Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis who, after observational studies, first advanced the idea of “hand hygiene” in medical settings.  Here’s how Semmelweis, working in an obstetrics ward in Vienna in the 19th century, made the connection between dirty hands and deadly infection.

Hand-Washing in the old days

While we certainly don’t know the name of the first guy to wash his hands, the history of hand-washing extends back to ancient times, when it was largely a religious practice. The Old Testament, the Talmud and the Quran all mention hand-washing in the context of ritual cleanliness, and it may be that ritual hand washing had some public health implications.  During the Black Death of the 14th century, for instance, the Jews of Europe had a distinctly lower rate of death than others. Researchers believe that hand-washing prescribed by their religion probably served as protection during the epidemic.

Dr. Semmelweis

Hand-washing as a health care practice did not really surface until the mid-1800s, when a young Hungarian physician named Ignaz Semmelweis did an important observational study at Vienna General Hospital.

Semmelweis started working in obstetrics, a relatively new and not very prestigious area for physicians, in the Vienna Hospital in 1846. Obstetrics had to that time been dominated by midwifery and conventional doctors were trying to expand into the childbirth business.

The leading cause of maternal mortality in Europe at that time was puerperal fever–an infection, now thought to be caused by the streptococcus bacterium, that killed postpartum women. Prior to 1823, about 1 in 100 women died in childbirth at the Vienna Hospital. But after a policy change mandated that medical students and obstetricians perform autopsies in addition to their other duties, the mortality rate for new mothers suddenly jumped to 7.5%.

When the hospital opened a second obstetrics division, staffed entirely by midwives, the older division, where Dr. Semmelweis worked, was quickly seen to have a much higher mortality rate than the new midwives’ division.

Semmelweis set out to investigate. He examined all the similarities and differences of the two divisions. The only significant difference was that male doctors and medical students worked in the first division and female midwives in the second.

What transmits disease?

At that time, the general belief was that bad odors called “miasma” transmitted disease. It would be two more decades at least before germ theory–the idea that microbes cause disease–took over as the accepted theory, the theory that persists until today.

Semmelweis reasoned that no midwives ever participated in autopsies or dissections, but students and physicians regularly went between autopsies and deliveries, rarely washing their hands in between. Realizing that chloride solution rid objects of their odors, Semmelweis ordered hand-washing across his department. Starting in May 1847, anyone entering the doctors’ obstetrical division had to wash his hands in a bowl of chloride solution. The incidence of puerperal fever and death dropped sharply by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, as in the case of his contemporary John Snow, who discovered that cholera was transmitted by polluted water and not miasma, Semmelweis’ work did not get him a place in history or even a promotion.  In fact, he lost his job because his boss was envious of his success and got no recognition for the discovery during his lifetime.

Hand-washing has now, of course, become a part of the medical ritual, but it gets a definite bump of compliance whenever there is disease outbreak. Even in times of pandemic, though, we do not have a day on our calendar that honors Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis. There is no justice.

Adapted using information drawn from The Conversation.

The ‘Longest animal ever’ was discovered in a deep-sea canyon off the Australian coast



Underwater explorers found a 150-foot-long (45 meters) siphonophore — a translucent, stringy creature that, like coral, is made up of smaller beings — living in a submarine canyon off the coast of Australia. It’s “seemingly the largest animal ever discovered,” they said.

Every individual siphonophore is made up of many little “zooids,” creatures that live lives that are  similar to animals we’re familiar with, although they are always connected to the larger colony.

Zooids are born axsexually, and each one performs a function for the siphonophore’s larger body.   Linked together in long chains, the colonies were already known to reach lengths of up to 130 feet, though each siphonophore is only about as thick as a broomstick.

The new, record-setting siphonophore was one of several discoveries made by a team aboard the research vessel Falkor while exploring deep-sea canyons near Australia’s Ningaloo Coast.


Disinfecting the Hot Water Supply, Step-by-Step

Excerpted from “Shock Chlorination: Disinfecting the Hot Water Portion of Household Plumbing,” by Mark Walker, et al. See full citation below. 

Gazette Introductory Note: These rather elaborate instructions from the Univ. of Nevada describe a way to disinfect your hot water heater without cutting or disconnecting pipes. An easier way is to have a water filter somewhere in front of the heater and use the filter housing to introduce household bleach into the water line.

1. If the water heater is electric, turn the power off. If the water heater is gas or propane, set the thermostat as low as it will go. This keeps the water temperature cool, which preserves the active ingredients in bleach.


2. All hot water heaters have a pressure relief valve that prevents explosions. In most cases the relief valve is connected to a pipe that leads outside to prevent damage from water discharges in the house. Be sure that the pressure relief piping is unobstructed. The end of the pipe should always be open and dry. If you can see water dripping steadily from the end of the pipe, the relief valve should be replaced.


3. Make sure that all hot water faucets are off. Bleach is introduced into the system by siphoning, which will not be possible if a hot water faucet is left on.


4. Locate the cold water valve leading into the hot water tank and turn it off. Normally this valve is on top of the tank. By closing this valve the hot water tank will be isolated from the rest of the water system in the house.


5. If the garden hose that was used to drain the sediment from the tank has been removed, reattach it and direct the hose to a location, preferably outdoors, where hot water discharges will not cause injury or damage.


6. Attach the short piece of garden hose to a hot water tap nearest to the water heater. In most cases this faucet will be located in a laundry room. If there is a hot water tap available that has male hose thread (such as the hot water tap for the washing machine), attach the hose there. If such a connection is not available use a piece of hose that can be slipped over the end of a faucet and attached with a hose clamp to make the connection air tight. Make sure that the hose is sturdy, because it will be used to siphon the bleach solution and flimsy hoses may collapse when the siphon begins. Also do not use a tap with a decorative brass finish. Bleach will discolor brass.


7. Use gloves and goggles when pouring and mixing bleach solutions. Dilute a suitable quantity of bleach (see Table 1, below) in the two-to-five gallon plastic bucket. The bleach solution may damage fabrics and other surfaces, so be sure to not splash or overflow the bucket. The actual amount of bleach to use is dependent upon the size of the hot water tank and the amount of time that can be dedicated to the process. In general, if you create a 250 ppm solution of sodium hypochlorite in the hot water tank and plumbing, it should rest for twelve hours before being purged. Table 1 provides guidelines for the amount of bleach needed to disinfect the hot water heater and associated household plumbing. Table 1 assumes that the volume of water in the hot water part of household plumbing is approximately five gallons.

Table 1: Amount of Bleach Needed to Disinfect Water Heaters of Specific Sizes, with Associated Household Plumbing:

40 Gallon Tank= 3.25 cups of bleach.

50 Gallon Tank = 4 cups of bleach.

80 Gallon Tank = 6 cups of bleach.

120 Gallon Tank = 8.75


8. Place the free end of the drain hose in the plastic bucket containing the bleach solution, making sure that it reaches all the way to the bottom of the bucket.

9. This is the point in the process when having two people involved is helpful. In order to start the siphon, the drain on the heater must be opened at the same time that the hot water faucet equipped with the hose is opened. Open the hot water heater drain first, then open the hot water faucet.


10. Watch the bucket containing the bleach solution carefully. If the siphon is working properly, the level of bleach solution should be dropping as it is drawn into the hot water tank and piping. If the liquid level in the bucket is rising, turn off the hot water faucet immediately and start again. When most of the bleach solution has been siphoned out, shut the hot water tank drain, then shut the hot water tap and remove the short hose. Be sure to rinse the tap to avoid corrosion.


11. After the bleach solution has been siphoned into the hot water tank, open the cold water valve to the water heater.


12. One by one, open each of the hot water faucets in the house until you can smell bleach in the water. After water with bleach is introduced throughout the hot water system, do not use hot water faucets.


13. After at least twelve hours, drain the hot water tank to a location where it will not cause damage. Never drain water with a high concentration of bleach to the septic tank. A septic tank is dependent upon bacteria to operate properly and bleach could kill these beneficial bacteria.


14. Go to the hot water tap furthest from the water heater and let it flow for a few minutes to purge any introduced air from the system and remove any bleach from the pipes. Repeat this at each of the hot water taps until the chlorine smell goes away. Be sure to check all hot water taps to verify that all bleach has been purged from the hot water system


15. Reset the water heater thermostat.


The instructions above are excerpted from a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension publication.  Go here for the full article.


Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Covid-19 could infect the water supply, say researchers

 Gazette Introductory Note:  We’re reprinting this piece because so little has been said about Covid-19 as a water contaminant. Please don’t take this is as a recommendation to install special water treatment equipment to guard against coronaviruses. Your  chance of being infected by Covid-19 from shower water in your home seems to us way less than remote.

Scientists are calling for more research into whether current water treatment methods are enough to kill Covid-19 to ensure it is not being spread through water infrastructure.

It is already known that coronaviruses, including Covid-19, can remain infectious for days or even longer in sewage and drinking water.

The virus is also commonly transported in microscopic water droplets, or aerosols, which enter the air through evaporation or spray.

“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for a careful evaluation of the fate and control of this contagious virus in the environment,” said University of California researcher Haizhou Liu. “Environmental engineers like us are well positioned to apply our expertise to address these needs with international collaborations to protect public health.”

During a 2003 Sars outbreak in Hong Kong, a sewage leak caused a cluster of cases through aerosolisation. Although this has not occurred during the current pandemic so far, its similarities to Sars mean this infection route could be possible.

It is also thought Covid-19 could colonise biofilms that line drinking water systems, making showerheads a possible source of aerosolised transmission. This transmission pathway is already thought to be a major source of exposure to the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease.

Most water treatment routines are thought to kill or remove coronaviruses effectively in both drinking and wastewater. Oxidation with hypochlorous acid or peracetic acid, and inactivation by ultraviolet irradiation, as well as chlorine, are thought to be enough to eradicate the virus.

However, the researchers have cautioned that most of these methods have not been studied for effectiveness specifically on Covid-19 and other coronaviruses and are calling for additional research.

They also suggest upgrading existing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in outbreak hot spots, which possibly receive coronavirus from places such as hospitals, community clinics and nursing homes.

Energy-efficient, light-emitting, diode-based, ultraviolet point-of-use systems could disinfect water before it enters the public treatment system. Potable water-reuse systems, which purify wastewater back into tap water, also need thorough investigation for coronavirus removal, and possibly new regulatory standards for disinfection, the researchers said.

“It is now clear to all that globalisation also introduces new health risks. Where water and sanitation systems are not adequate, the risk of finding novel viruses is very high,” said researcher Vincenzo Naddeo.

“In a responsible and ideal scenario, the governments of developed countries must support and finance water and sanitation systems in developing countries, in order to also protect the citizens of their own countries.”

Engineering and Technology.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Venturi Aeration Systems

Posted March 31st, 2020

  Simple, Inexpensive Aeration System for Treatment of Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide

Pure Water Products offers state-of-the-art AerMax systems with electric air pumps for treatment of iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide, and we provide a good variety of parts for these systems on our main website. We also offer “single tank aerators,” which are filter that draw in air to treat contaminants during their regeneration process.  In addition, we have the simple, inexpensive aeration system described below.

These parts fit and interchange with the Nelsen Corporation’s “Terminator” Aeration Systems. Please call for information and pricing on complete Terminator units or for any of the parts shown on this page.

aeration_venturi (3)

In the passive venturi aeration system pictured above, when the well pump is running, water from the well passes through the venturi valve which draws air into the water line. An aeration tank which follows the well’s regular pressure tank provides contact time and mixing space so that the air can oxidize the iron, manganese, or hydrogen sulfide for removal by a filter. (The filter is not shown and is not included in this product. We provide many excellent filters for this purpose on our main website.) The vent valve on top of the aeration tank vents off excess air.

 venturi (1)

Waterite Venturi Air Injector. Air is drawn into the water stream through the stem on the right. The nut on the left provides an adjustment.

We offer the parts and entire units listed, but information and sales are done by phone or email only.  

Pure Water Products

Email: pwp@purewaterproducts.com, or call 940 382 3814 for information or purchase.

Please call for pricing.

Part Number
AM200 Waterite Air Injector, 1″–3/8 to 16 gpm. Installs on 1″ water line.
AM220 Honeywell Air Mix Tank Kit, ¾”
AM221 Honeywell Air Mix Tank Kit, 1″

Honeywell/Braukmann Air Vent, 1/8″. Passive Air Vent without vent tube.


Vent Tubing Connector for Honeywell Air Vent. Adapts 1/8″ Vent Nipple to 1/4″ tube

AM230 PWP Budget Air Mix Assembly. Include Honeywell Vent Kit, 1″, Waterite Injector, 1″, and 8 X 44 Mix Tank
AM229 PWP Budget Air Mix Assembly. Includes Honeywell Vent Kit, 3/4″, Waterite Injector, 1″, and 8 X 44 Mix Tank (Identical to AM230 except that the vent head is for 3/4″ pipe.)

This equipment is not available for order by shopping cart, but you can order by calling 940 382 3814.

Pure Water Products

940 382 3814

Viqua VH200 UV Units

Posted March 30th, 2020

The Viqua VH200 Series UV Units

The Perfect UV Unit for Most Residential Applications



The Viqua VH200 F10


The compact but powerful Viqua VH200 ultraviolet unit is ideal for most residential use, either for well water or city water.  Though it is rated for nine gallons per minute, the unit puts out double the dosage needed for bacteria like E. coli even at sixteen gallons per minute.  This makes it plenty powerful for all but very large homes.

The VH200 is an economical unit that uses only about half as much current as a 60-watt light bulb and consequently it generates far less unwanted heat than more powerful UV units.

The VH200 comes from the factory in two formats: as a single, independent UV chamber, or as a bracket-mounted 2-stage system that includes a 4″ X 10″ sediment filter. (See picture above.) In either format it can easily be coupled with standard filtration equipment to add carbon filtration as well.

VH200-ForWeb-300x274Viqua VH200 UV Unit comes complete with mounting bracket. Easy to install, easy to maintain.


Here are some highlights:

  •  Versatile: Available with a sediment prefilter (Model VH200 F-10), and can be easily combined with other standard filtration equipment if desired.
  • Convenient: Mounted on a reversible, heavy duty, painted steel bracket for installation flexibility and convenience. This means you can install with the inlet water on the left or on the right. Combo inlet fits both 3/4″ and 1″ pipe.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Audible lamp replacement reminder and countdown timer with digital display. It reminds you when it’s time to change the lamp. Lamp life is a bit over a year. Controller will also go into alarm if the lamp fails.
  • Reliable: The constant current feature ensures stable UV lamp output, regardless of power fluctuations
  •  Powerful: High-performance UV lamp, rigorously tested to provide consistent output over the entire lamp life (9000 hours). See power ratings below.
  • Space Efficient: High UV output lamp technology allows for a smaller footprint, while maintaining the same UV dose as a longer chamber.


Features & Specs  VH200 F-1

Disinfection Flow Rates
16mJ/cm2 16 GPM (60 lpm) (3.6 m3/hr)
30mJ/cm2 9 GPM (34 lpm) (2.0 m3/hr)
40mJ/cm2 7 GPM (26 lpm) (1.6 m3/hr)
Dimensions 17″ x 10 1/2″ x 18″ for VH200 F10.  VH200 is 17.75″ X 3.5″.
Shipping Weight lbs (kg) 26 lbs. for VH200 F10.   (VH200 is 12 lbs.)
Connection Size 1″MNPT INLET / 1″ x 3/4″ COMBO OUTLET.
Power Consumption 35W

Pure Water Products part numbers for these units are UV909 for VH200 single unit and UF918 for VH200 F-1 unit with sediment filter.

We also have upgrade kits that allow the VH200 to be combined with high flow carbon block systems.

Current Pure Water Products Pricing for the VH200 Units.  Prices include shipping.

UV909 Viqua VH200. UV Only.  Single unit without filters. — $446.

UV918 Viqua VH200-F10.  UV unit with  10″ X 4.5″ sediment filter. — $568.

UV909Plus. Pure Water Products Hybrid VH200 with sediment and carbon block filters.  Consists of 4.5″ X 10″ sediment filter, 4.5″ X 20″ carbon block filter, and VH200 UV unit. Made with Pentair “Big Blue” housings. Stainless connector and pipe nipples included. — $735.


940 382 3814


Water Transmission and COVID-19

Drinking Water, Recreational Water and Wastewater: What You Need to Know

Information about  COVID-19 and Water from the website of the Centers for Disease Control.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?

The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Is the COVID-19 virus found in feces?

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The amount of virus released from the body (shed) in stool, how long the virus is shed, and whether the virus in stool is infectious are not known.

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person is also unknown. However, the risk is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). There have been no reports of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?

CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.

SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.

Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.

Should wastewater workers take extra precautions to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus?

Wastewater treatment plant operations should ensure workers follow routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater. These include using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater. No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.

For additional information:

CDC: Guidance for reducing health risks to workers handling human waste or sewage

CDC: Healthcare professionals: Frequently asked questions and answers

CDC: Healthy Water

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: COVID-19 Control and Prevention: Solid waste and wastewater management workers and employers

World Health Organization: Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19