Removal of SARS-CoV-2 viral markers through a water reclamation facility

Niloufar Gharoon, Aimee Dewan, Lin Li, Laura Haak, Lauren Mazurowski, Tatiana Guarin, Krishna Pagilla

Research output: Articles / NotesScientific Articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Abstract: There have been multiple reports of COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2 RNA presence in influent wastewater of water reclamation facilities (WRFs) across the world. In this study, the removal of SARS-CoV-2 RNA was investigated in a WRF by collecting samples from various stages relayed to hydraulic retention time (HRT) and analyzed for viral RNA (N1 and N2) gene markers and wastewater characteristics. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in 28 out of 28 influent wastewater and primary effluent samples. Secondary effluent showed 4 out of 9 positive samples, and all tertiary and final effluent samples were below the detection limit for the viral markers. The reduction was significant (p value < 0.005, one-way analysis of variance [ANOVA] test) in secondary treatment, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 log10 removal. Adjusted N1 viral marker had a positive correlation with total suspended solids, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and ammonia concentrations (Spearman's ρ = 0.61, 0.67, and 0.53, respectively, p value < 0.05), while demonstrating a strongly negative correlation with HRT (Spearman's ρ = −0.58, p value < 0.01). Practitioner points: Viral RNA was present in all samples taken from influent and primary effluent of a WRF. SARS-CoV-2 gene marker was detected in secondary effluent in 4 out of 9 samples. Tertiary and final effluent samples tested nondetect for SARS-CoV-2 gene markers. Up to 0.5 and 2.0 log10 virus removal values were achieved by primary and secondary treatment, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2819-2827
Number of pages9
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • RT-qPCR
  • SARS-CoV-2 gene markers
  • wastewater reclamation


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